Yes, you read that right – Millwall have indeed won a game! It wasn’t your quintessential scruffy 1-0 smash and grab either, far from it. The result was well and truly deserved, and the performance was sublime – Millwall hadn’t won away all season, and hadn’t tasted victory since beating Nottingham Forest 2-0 at the Den on August 13th.
It is The Lions’ second win of the season, coincidently they have both come against former two England managers!
A hard fought point away to Middlesbrough and a point at home to Brighton were decent results against high flying opposition after the international break. A corner had seemingly been turned. If only slightly.After these matches it was a trip to big spending Leicester City on Saturday with even the most optimistic Lions fan struggling to see points to be gained, the eventual outcome was even harder to fathom. Prior to kick-off hearing the announcer name the Leicester starting eleven, most Lions fans questioned if their side would even get a point, but money cannot buy you everything!
A Darius Henderson hat-trick (I’m not making this up) was the icing on the cake in what was a perfect performance, the big target man got his first from the spot, and his second came just before halftime.
The second was crucial, going in at the break only one goal up would have been great, doubling the lead was deserved and needed. Leicester would have come out stronger in the second period had they been trailing by the one goal, and maybe pegged Millwall back. The second was an insurance.
A 2-0 lead isn’t a safe scoreline by any means, so when Liam Feeney’s 68th minute corner was headed in by Henderson to make it three and complete his treble, the game was safe.
To a man, Millwall performed like their nickname. Solid in defence, creative in midfield and clinical up front.
Compare that to the lacklustre performance from Sven’s men, and you would have thought the two teams were in the opposite situation.Leicester did assert pressure and press at 2-0 down, but the Millwall defence was impenetrable. £35,000-a-week man, Jermaine Beckford was subbed off at half time after, like he was for Leeds, non-existent against Millwall. Lloyd Dyer came on in his place and made more of an impact, but it wasn’ the Foxes’ day.
If Kenny Jackett is reading this, signing Brian Howard on a permanent basis is key. He has calmness in abundance and is very creative on the ball, his experience is something the midfield have lacked this season. Against Leicester he won the penalty and dictated the direction of Millwall’s attack, he would certainly be a great addition to the squad.
Performance aside, the surprise of the day was the forgotten man, Jack Smith. All Millwall fans know how good the defender is, and barring the injuries he has had, should be a first team regular. After today’s performance, I think that will be the case. A right-back by trade and even an auxiliary centre-back, Smith found himself at left-back but played admirably. This has been somewhat of a problem position for Kenny Jackett this season, playing Tony Craig, Jordan Stewart and most recently Scott Barron in the position. In all honesty none have impressed, until today.
Smith was coolness personified on the ball all afternoon, bringing it out from the back with composure. Solid in defence and showed purpose to get forward, he was arguably Millwall’s best full back who did his chances the world of good in what was a vintage performance. He plays so nonchalantly and I feel he is underrated.
Nothing was going to get past Millwall at the King Power stadium, it was the day of the underdog.
The win was long overdue and it was a performance to be proud of.
Leicester have the money, but that can’t buy team spirit and togetherness. A side of individuals or a crafted team? I know which I’d prefer!
In KJ we trust!
Written by Jay Taylor, We Are Going Up’s Millwall blogger
Jay tweets at @jay_taylor18