Millwall 2 Cardiff City 2. Match Report

Last updated : 03 November 2004 By NigelBlues

Cardiff may have just one out of seven but only two wins have been amassed. We are now unbeaten in four games too but only bottom of the table Rotherham lost to us. Leeds, Brighton and now Millwall somehow drew with us despite being second best overall. Regardless, an away draw in South London would have been taken by all City fans at the start of the day.

It was a tough game, Millwall is a tough place but the toughest part of all was the trip, an experience to anger the mildest of City fans. It went without saying that it was compulsory coach travel but the club still sold their 1,000 allocation so 20+ coaches took to the motorways. Then the Met did their worst.

Three days before the game, the arranged meet up time at South Mimms services on the M25 was brought forward 1 hour to 12:30pm so reps urgently had to call travellers to change pick-up times. We complied, got there, exchanged travel vouchers for match tickets and prepared for the journey of under 20 miles to the ground. Yet despite getting to the pick-up point two and a half hours before the game, police got us to the game 10 minutes late. Hundreds of City fans were just messed about as we were taken to the ground in the most indirect route going, it made no sense to anyone.

This fiasco continued after the game. Instead of getting to the M25 at the nearest point, The Met escorted us on another scenic route to the furthest point away from getting home. It was very scenic to see Greenwich observatory, Cutty Sark, Millennium Dome, Canary Wharf and the Imperial Museum but taking the pee big time to have us join the M25 at its exit for Dover and The Channel Tunnel. It was the equivalent of South Wales police to Neath before allowing them to head home. I can understand them being cagey around the ground but why mess us about completely so far away?

This was my first visit to New Den and compared to Old Den, it may still have an intimidating feel but it's a Pussycat's Palace. It is different compared to other newer grounds though. Most these days are surrounded by retail and leisure parks but not Millwall, there are surrounded by a network of archways and lock-up garages. No sign of The Mitchell Brothers, Ricky and Bianca but I'm sure they were there in spirit.

The ground itself is different to most newer stadia too. It has the traditional four stands instead of being bowl-shaped, most of them being double-decker style. Not sure of capacity but the 10,470 inside made it look substantially less than half full. City fans were housed behind one goal with home fans spread out everywhere else. Apart from a crowd of 70-80 Millwall in the Upper Deck to our left, it was hard to see where there hardcore element were - quite likely however, it was all of them! Security was naturally tight ... to the extent that stewards wouldn't let us take our lucky pineapple (removed from a Slough pub) inside but gave us a ticket to get if afterwards. Bless'em!

City named an unchanged side from the team that drew but really should have won at Brighton in midweek. Paul Parry had failed to recover from injury meaning 17 year old Joe Ledley, who really does look the part, was given his second full start which no doubt delighted his parents and brother stood right next to me. The team were Warner, Williams-Vidmar-Gabbidon-Barker, McAnuff-Kavanagh-O'Neill-Ledley, Thorne-Lee. There was a (thankful) change on the sub's bench as the hapless Andy Campbell who got injured in reserve action but I don't know any City fan who would prefer Campbell ahead of Jerome anyway. Lennie then left out the youngster who was there, Byron Anthony, for fit again Rhys Weston. Joining them were Alexander, Bullock and Collins.

The Lions started the day in 9th place but with two games in hand on just about everyone thanks to their first ever, albeit brief, exploits in Europe, a reward for their F.A. Cup final appearance last term. It leaves them set to burst into the play-off and promotion frame. Part of the reason being home form. New Den may not have felt as intimidating to me but it obviously still does to visiting Championship sides as 5 or their last 6 opponents had gone home empty-handed.

Their starting eleven were Stack, Muscat-Lawrence-Ward-Livermore, Dunne-Wise-Morris-Simpson,Tessem-Hayles. Keeper Graham Stack is loaned from Arsenal, a more familiar Premiership loan name started in attack in Southampton's Joe Tessem. Kevin Muscat is an Aussie international team mate of Tony Vidmar but the biggest names, and pains, to City fans were their duo of player-boss Dennis Wise and Jody Morris.

There were connections to excite both sets of fans. City's keeper, Tony Warner, returning to the club where he is regarded as a cult hero after 5 years service but that was forgotten as he came in for abuse and torment all afternoon. Mind you, it didn't help that he ayatollahed and request and the 'Wall fans didn't seem over-happy as we chanted "Warner is a Bluebird". Their other target of the afternoon was a City fan who they decided was an Ozzy Osbourne lookielikie which gave him recognition with both sets of fans.

Wise and Morris were our main hate figures. Dennis Wise because he's Dennis Wise and Morris who walked out on City, without saying a word, to sign for Leeds at the start of last season but later declaring that had go for Premiership football. Within three months, he got
some notoriety after wrongly being accused of a sex crime and then went to Rotherham and now he's here. How the mighty fall eh Jody? And City fans enjoyed reminding him.

Maybe the biggest twist though was City's Gary O'Neill playing against the club he has supported all his life and, for whom, he was apparently a season ticket holder until 6 years ago. He certainly put his support aside for the afternoon as did Lennie was born in Brighton (who we played last Tuesday) but was raised from age 6 in Sarf London and has a soft
spot for Millwall too.

The first half was tense and uncompromising but, until its closing stages, was short on goalmouth and memorable action. Some of those few lucky City fans in the ground by kick-off saw Peter Thorne failed to connect properly with a far post header inside the first 30 seconds and, later, Kav blasted wide with a blistering volley after playing a one-two with Thorney.

Millwall attacked hard but City's midfield and defence stood up to them very well indeed. It may not have been our best performance of the season but, in many ways, it was perhaps our best effort as City fought fire with fire, to a man they all stood up and got counted for the cause. It was naturally intense in midfield but Kav and O'Neill were not going to be messed about by Morris and Wise, Kav lead the way with a big hit on Wisey that got him booked but which sent out a powerful message to his team-mates to get stuck in too.

The home side hardly worried Tony Warner. One 20 yard shot into the side netting which Warner appeared to have covered was as close as they got. The rest saw defenders winning all the vital challenges or just getting their bodies in the way to prevent danger. Millwall appealed for a penalty but were '"aving a laff" as Chris Barker was hit by the ball from a foot away.

The key action came in the last 5 minutes of the half as City created tow outstanding chances - the one we missed and the one we scored. The miss came first when Jody McAnuff, with nothing on, skipped past one challenge and then another and, suddenly, the game opened up completely ahead of him with 1,000 City fans roaring him on. Bursting forward, he was clear on goal and seemed certain to score but then fatally hesitated as he composed himself to shoo and saw his effort partly blocked for a fruitless corner.

The goal was special. 41 minutes gone, within moments of that miss, Peter Thorne played the ball to Gary O'Neill who produced quick feet and magic to completely skip a Millwall challenge with a dummy and chip ahead. Like McAnuff he was racing in on goal with Millwall defenders closing from either side and also with Stack racing out but he showed superb composure and skill to dink the ball over the diving keeper at home from 15 yards. Quality, pure quality, Apparently, the first time Millwall had conceded a first half goal in 13 league matches, a club record. Glad we made sure it got no better!


The home side made a half-time change, their talisman Neil Harris came on for Simpson, and whilst City fans were celebrating getting that lead and then drinking the half-time beers that we spent all half-time queuing just to get near to it, Harris created an equaliser.

The game opened, like City's key chances, with a vital challenge being missed as Gabbidon was easily beaten by Morris, the ball worked to Harris whose low cross caught out Warner and was turned home by TESSEM for his first Millwall goal in the fourth appearance of his loan spell. Ozzy was asked what the score was by the Millwall fans and duly obliged by raising one relevant digit on each hand and flicking it back at them, nice one Ozzy.

The game then threatened to boil over as the tempo and tempers rose in equal measures. Peter Thorne was clearly impeded and pushed in the back trying to reach a cross. Looked a perfectly legitimate penalty claim to me but the referee denied it. Almost from the clearance, Dennis Wise went in hard and clattered O'Neill leaving him motionless with a head injury. Wisey, the drama queen, blamed O'Neill then started a shoving match with Kav who came to protect his injured team-mate. It ended with Terry Burton, going berserk about the incident from the touchline, getting sent away from the dugout. When Neil Harris smashed into Alan Lee and got booked, it became white hot.

Kav rode his luck by hitting Wise again too but for a legitimate 50/50 ball, the home fans wanted him off but he had a word with the ref. Fair does to Kav, he stood his ground all day. In this game, it had to be done.

On 67 minutes, having stood firm under some pressure, City regained the lead after Ledley cut inside and saw his shot blocked for a corner. Ledley took it and hit it to the centre of goal where Millwall got into a complete mess as ALAN LEE burst in and nodded home from 2 yards. Don't understand ewhy the keeper never collected it, don't understand why a defender never cleared and don't understand why the home side were furiously complaining about Lee's challenge. Frankly, I don't care either. There was nothing wrong with that goal other than embarrassing defending but there was that anxious moment's wait until ref Howard Webb signalled the goal and then all hell broke loose as the City end went into joyous celebration. Fantastic stuff.

For a few minutes, it really looked like we were on our way to all three points as we got into the ascendency and were taking the game to the home side. The next corner saw Tony Vidmar fall to the ground as he side-stepped a challenge, the penalty appeals turned into a yellow card as it was ruled a dive, I think he just lost his balance.

The home side, and their fans, were now clearly rattled an it was hugely enjoyable but then City were rocked by a 73rd minute equaliser. A simple Muscat cross to the penalty spot but Cardiff were completely caught out as Tony Vidmar was overloaded with tow players challenging with him, it was NEIL HARRIS who won the ball, nodded down and the ball skidded off the greasy surface with steady rainfall and into Warner's goal, his dive in despair. Once more, Ozzy was asked for the score by Millwall fans. He obliged them again, this time by raising two appropriate fingers on each hand and flicking them up and down. Nice one again Ozzy.

It was now anyone's game but it was City who were closest to winning as we put in a strong finish. Alan Lee, who seemed to come to life after his goal, turned and broke away towards goal to be hauled down by Muscat to create another flashpoint. Ledley cut inside and had a low shot saved, Thorne and Lee were stacked up to meet a far post McAnuff cross, Thorne got there but headed straight at Stack from a tight angle but the closest came when an O'Neill cross caused chaos and Stack fumbled it onto a post and Lee looked set to score from the rebound but denied by the keeper and then strangely booked for his challenge.

Final whistle blew and City were warmly applauded for a richly deserved point. Gillingham, Crewe and Coventry all lost by at least three goals and had Forest not scored two late consolations, it would have been the same for them too. In context, it was therefore a great point to collect but there have to be regrets that we did not leave Millwall with an improvement to the "W" column. So it is only 1 defeat in 7 but it is also only 3 wins in 15 starts this season and, to really pull away, we have to ensure the upturn in performances starts converting into wins. It won't be easy with home games against Leicester and West Ham next games on the Championship front but we look far more equipped to play these sides than we did last month.

Having got our pineapple back, we returned to the Slough pub to celebrate a decent result. That would have made us late anyway but then the coach wipers jamming and then failing in the rain didn't help either. Somehow we got home safely but not until 11:30pm - it's a hard life following City on the road.

Report from Footymad

Neil Harris equalled Teddy Sheringham's league goalscoring record as Millwall ground out a hard-fought point against Cardiff.

The visitors twice went ahead through Gary O'Neil and Alan Lee, but Neil Harris and Jo Tessem each opened their accounts for the season.

O'Neil, a lifelong Millwall fan on loan from Portsmouth, had opened the scoring by capitalising on David Livermore's mistake in the 39th minute to coolly slot past Graham Stack.

But Millwall hit back immediately after the break through Jo Tessem, who ran on to substitute Harris' cross to fire in from ten yards.

Alan Lee put Cardiff ahead in controversial fashion in the 68th minute when he appeared to drag defender Darren Ward down to head in from close range.

The goal brought howls of protest from the Millwall players, but they needn't have bothered, because they were only behind for another six minutes.

Harris rose to head in Kevin Muscat's long cross to head in his first of the season, and the 93rd league goal of his career to equal Sheringham's haul.

Lee forced tempers to again flare in the Millwall penalty box late in the match when he hacked Stack to the ground, sparking a 20-man scuffle in the area.

If only Cardiff had shown the same amount passion in the first half. Every time Lennie Lawrence's side looked to be going on the offensive, they were broken down by the industrious Jody Morris and Dennis Wise in the centre of midfield.

Millwall started the better of the two sides, and Barry Hayles came close to an opening in the fifth minute when he was fed from the left by bandy-legged winger Josh Simpson, but was hustled off the ball by Darren Williams.

And he should have done better on the hour when his tame shot from eight yards dribbled wide of the post.

Ward forced Warner into a point-blank save in the sixth minute when he met Wise's corner. Then the defender, yet to score this season for Millwall, was handed another chance when he shaved the post off another corner from his manager.

Chris Barker, who had lost his marker Ward for the defender to break clear early in the match, made up for his error in the 10th minute when he blocked Alan Dunne's fierce shot.

Tessem, on loan from Southampton, was unlucky in the 27th minute when he opted to shoot from at least 30 yards out, and his effort flew past Warner wide of the post.

But the half-time substitution of Harris for Simpson paid dividends when the striker - beginning in an unfamiliar left wing role before moving to the centre later in the match - put through for Tessem's first goal for Millwall.