Millwall 0-1 Leicester
The New Den
14/03/09 - 3 p.m.
Back to business, thankfully. I had my doubts before the game, but our boys showed that they're not top of the league for no reason. It's just about as solid a performance as you'll see, with Millwall frustrated by Leicester's solid backline all game long.
After disappointingly going down to Tranmere on Wednesday night it was important that Pearson's men got straight back to winning ways at 4th placed Millwall. Luckily, Steve Howard's impressive 22nd minute goal paved the way for another three points on the way to promotion from League One, giving Leicester the 'bouncebackability' they so badly needed with MK Dons and Peterborough refusing to drop points.
Pearson made changes following the Tranmere match, bringing in Lloyd Dyer for Chris Powell, and doing the right thing by reverting Joe Mattock back to his favoured left back spot. New signing and former Millwall goalkeeper Tony Warner replaced the injured David Stockdale between the sticks.
The game started in fairly bright fashion for the Foxes, as they registered a series of early corners to pile pressure on the home side.
James Henry looked Millwall's most dangerous player, making a mockery of Mattock in the first 20 minutes, but fortunately the winger wasn't able to make the most of his opportunities from the right hand side.
Then, in the 22nd minute, a moment of quality from Steve Howard, as the big striker turned 20 yards out to rifle home an impressive volley to hand the visitors the lead at the New Den.
GOAL: MILLWALL 0-1 LEICESTER (HOWARD, 22)
Millwall's first half attempts to get back into the game were, to sum up, futile. Jack Hobbs was determined to keep anything and everything out, and succeeded brilliantly. The home side found themselves with a healthy amount of possession on the wings, but were ultimately wasteful with their final ball.
Zak Whitbread, one of League One's most impressive centre backs this season, came closest for Millwall but his header flashed comfortably wide of Warner's goal.
There was controversy in the 40th minute when Howard was adjudged to have elbowed Millwall's Tony Craig, but the referee only showed a yellow card much to the home support's frustrations. Neither side were happy with the decision, with Leicester manager Nigel Pearson questioning whether the referee would have even showed a yellow had it not been for Millwall's over-zealous protests.
HALF TIME: MILLWALL 0-1 LEICESTER
The second period began in much the same fashion as the first, with City registering a number of corners which were duly dealt with by the Millwall backline.
However, the home side were in no mood to give up and followed up with a couple of chances of their own, most notably through James Henry who scooped his header harmlessly over the bar.
Tom Cleverley came close to adding a second for the Foxes, but his final shot after a tidy Leicester move was tipped over by Forder for a corner.
Leicester's top-goalscorer Matty Fryatt hit the base of the post with 10 minutes left, following up with a weak header wide.
Barry Hayles' introduction in the 75th minute had proved to be a wise choice by Pearson as the burly striker battled his way to helping the Foxes keep their lead.
Millwall fans thought their side had scored two minutes later when Tony Craig headed Henry's cross, but Warner was equal to what was, in the end, a routine save.
FULL TIME: MILLWALL 0-1 LEICESTER
Leicester held out for the three points, much to the delight of the 2,000 strong travelling support - relief on our part with those pesky Dons and co. refusing to lose anywhere. Despite the best efforts of Millwall's physical game, we were simply too strong.
Unsurprisingly Millwall fans did their reputations no favours at all with several incidents on and off the pitch. Leicester captain Matt Oakley faced missiles from the crowd whilst taking a corner, with a steward also alledgedly taking a plastic bottle to the mouth.
After being kept behind for an hour after the game, we were told that there were around 200 or so Millwall fans who had kindly waited at London Bridge to greet us after the game. Naturally the police had wised up to it and closed the station so we could walk through safely.
Back to the football, the win was vital. It's another three points on the way to the championship with 8 games remaining - the ball's firmly in our court. Do we want this league title? It's ours if we really want it.
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