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by Tom Moore, at The Den
Saturday, March 24, 2012
Championship: Millwall 0 Leeds United 1
Leeds striker Ross McCormack knocked home the winner to condemn Millwall to their fourth straight home defeat.
The first half was a reflection of the passionate crowd at The Den and the game threatened to boil over when Andy Keogh and Darren O’Dea clashed.
The game continued in this manner into the second half with Jimmy Abdou and Adam Clayton coming together before a frustrating 10 minutes for the home side settled the game.
The Lions felt they should have had two penalties in quick succession, shortly after the hour mark when James Henry was brought down and Alex Bruce appeared to handle.
However, they fell behind as McCormack knocked the ball past Lions goalkeeper Maik Taylor after 65 minutes following excellent work by Robert Snodgrass to give the visitors the only goal of the game.
Tottenham loanee Harry Kane thought he had scored an equaliser 80 seconds later but referee Lee Probert had brought the play back for a penalty, minutes after the home side had two strong claims for a spot kick turned down.
Top scorer Darius Henderson stepped up but the Whites’ stopper Andy Lonergan produced a marvellous save, diving to his left to tip the ball around the post.
Leeds, who were beaten 7-3 by Nottingham Forest on Tuesday, started the game with a point to prove and captain Snodgrass scythed down Millwall full back Jack Smith inside the first 70 seconds, picking up a yellow card for his efforts.
The Lions settled into their stride quickly and carved out the first opportunity, nine minutes in, as Henry’s free kick caused problems in the Whites’ area but Kane’s effort was tame and straight at Lonergan.
The home side continued to dominate the opening phases with Kane and Henry causing the visiting full backs, Tom Lees and Paul Robinson, all sorts of problems.
Despite this strong start, Millwall were unable to ask Lonergan any serious questions.
Kane continued to score problems and attempted to grab his second long range goal in less than a week in the final five minutes of the first half but Lonergan was equal to the Spurs loanee’s effort.
With the first half drawing to a close, the first flashpoint of the match occurred as Lions striker Keogh was brought down by O’Dea. The former Wolves man reacted and the pair ended up in the book.
Leeds started on the front foot in the second half forcing early corners and McCormack’s long range shot was dealt with by Taylor.
The second flashpoint of the game took place 10 minutes into the second period, between Clayton and Abdou, with the United midfielder appearing to throw his Lions counterpart to the ground and keeping him on the floor. The referee saw the incident and surprisingly did not take any action, letting the play go on.
Millwall then dominated proceedings and felt they should have had two penalties in quick succession.
The home side felt they should have had a spot kick on the hour mark when Henry was brought down by O’Dea, but Probert decided to book the Millwall winger for diving.
The Lions felt they should have had another penalty moments later when Leeds defender Robinson’s back header fell to Henry but Lonergan was equal to his effort before the ball appeared to strike Alex Bruce’s arm, however the official did not point to the spot.
It looked as if it would not be Millwall’s day and to compound the home side’s sense of injustice they fell behind to McCormack’s 65th minute effort.
Snodgrass picked the ball up on the right hand side of the penalty area. The skipper snaked to the byline before teeing the ball up for McCormack to tap home.
The Lions came back immediately and won a controversial penalty of their own, 78 seconds later when Andy Keogh was brought down by Bruce and as play went on Kane fired the ball home but the referee pointed to the spot, effectively disallowing the goal.
Henderson stepped up and Lonergan produced an tipped his effort wide.
To complete a mad 10 minutes for the Lions, skipper Paul Robinson’s bullet header had Lonergan beaten but came back off the bar.
The visitors could have settled the game with 15 minutes remaining as McCormack found time and space eight yards from goal, but his powerful effort was blocked by Taylor.
Millwall: Taylor, Smith (Montgomery 83), Robinson, Ward, Craig, Henry (Bouazza 83), Wright, Abdou, Kane, Henderson, Keogh.
Substitutes Not Used: Forde, Feeney, Lowry.
Leeds: Lonergan, Lees, Bruce, O’Dea, Robinson, White (Webber 62), Clayton, Brown, Snodgrass, Becchio, McCormack (Connolly 90).
Substitutes Not Used: Connolly, Rogers, Forssell, Webber, Thompson.
Referee: Lee Probert (Wiltshire).