Saturday, 3 May 2014

Millwall retain their Championship status with 1-0 win over Cherries

Match Report
Millwall 1 V 0 AFCB
3 May 2014
Attendance: 15,779 (1351)

This could always have been a bigger than it was in the end. AFCB already knew that the result mattered little to their season although their highest ever finish was perhaps something they could aim for. For Millwall it was all very different. In the Lion Match day programme Ian Holloway said: "There is no doubt in my mind that if we manage to stay in the Championship after today it will count as one of the biggest, if not the biggest, achievements of my managerial career." Ollie needn't have worried, the Lions roared and the Cherries could not find the form that had shot them up the table in recent weeks.
A ballon end of season atmosphere greeted the players.
Eddie Howe made four changes to the starting line up that perhaps already said that the Cherries were not going all out for a win. In came Adam Smith at right back, Fraser on the left wing, Daniels at left back and Tokelo Rantie up front. Out went Pugh, Grabban, Harte and Simon Francis who had previously played every minute of every game of the season before this match. Millwall brought in Morison for Martin in their only change.
The teams get ready.

First Half
It was business as usual as Kermorgant went down in the first minute, followed by Surman who won a free kick. At least Bournemouth were on the front foot with Rantie then winning the first corner.

Millwall's first attack came down their right wing, but it was quickly ended and Rantie stretched his legs against the out coming Forde in Millwall's goal, while Adam Smith had a poor shot that went wide. Rantie again looked lively and was taken out by Mark Beevers when heading towards goal.

Millwall's best early chance fell to Woolford who turned smartly in the box following a long throw and a series of headers, but his shot was kept out low down by Lee Camp at his left hand post.

AFCB tried to get their passing football going but Millwall were pushing up and putting the challenges in hard. Maierhofer and Morison were the targets for Scott Malone and Carlos Edwards to find, but Morison could only shoot wildly on 10 minutes.

The Cherries looked quick and hot to handle on the break with Ryan Fraser next to be tripped up by Beevers for which he received the yellow card. This gave Yann Kermorgant a chance to fire in a shot from the free kick and he brought out a good save from Forde low down to his left.

There were a series of free kicks then with Surman and Woolford going down before Cook received treatment on 16 minutes. Millwall pressed on with a corner that ended in Maierhofer and Garvan trying to get shots away but Camp's goal was untested. Millwall came much closer on 20 minutes when Rantie fouled Beevers and the free kick saw Cook and Maierhofer contest the ball before Morison hit a shot against the bar!

Three minutes later Maierhofer hit a shot on the edge of the box that was hard hit but right at Camp and the keeper spilled it to Garvan who made space and passed to Maierhofer who missed virtually an open goal from 7 yards out!

Bournemouth's hopes were raised after Tokelo Rantie set off on a solo run that saw him twist and turn the Millwall defence inside out before Forde was called upon to make a save on 27 minutes. But Millwall were about to strike and it came from a bit of loose play from Ritchie who had been battling to win the ball well with Adam smith. But when Ritchie ran into trouble the cross from the left wing found Martyn Woolford with a simple header to Camp's outstretched left arm and Millwall were 1-0 up!

Millwall made a sub then on 33 minutes with Upson coming off and Robinson entering the action. Edwards and Woolford were getting on the ball now as Millwall's confidence grew. Surman was finding it hard to keep his feet while O'Kane was not having his way this match. AFCB were still fighting in the middle of the pitch and while Daniels and Woolford were taking on it other the ball broke out to Kermorgant who did not know that the whistle had gone because he thumped the ball from the half way line into the net only for play to be brought back.

Towards half time the game got quite scrappy with both teams trying to take chunks out of each other Maierhofer took out Smith and it wasn't long before Bailey went in too hard on Smith and was given a yellow card. Smith also went in on Dunne and was given a yellow card. The referee Mr Naylor was getting really busy now and Edwards also went into the book before half time.
The referee and assistant referees head off the pitch.
Lion on the loose.
AFCB's subs warm up.
Second half
Bournemouth made two subs on 45 minutes with O'Kane and Smith going off and MacDonald and Francis coming on. AFCB started well with a free kick and corner in the first few minutes of the second period, but there was nothing to trouble Millwall. Edwards and Garvan were playing best for Millwall and Woolford missed a good chance when the ball had been played back to him in the box on 49 minutes.

Francis then made a poor pass along the back line that let in Maierhofer but a moments hesitation let Francis then get a tackle on Woolford who had been shaping up to strike. Rantie tried a one-two with Kermorgant then and looked in despair when the ball did not go where he intended to put the pass.

Williams was seeing plenty of the ball and defending well from Bournemouth's corners, while Cook's long throws were not getting far either. A goal attempt did come on the hour with Cook finding MacDonald with a header that Forde had to move quickly to his right to keep out. AFCB were turning up the volume with Francis putting in plenty of crosses now.

Millwall made a sub on 63 minutes with Simeon Jackson coming on for Stefan Maierhofer. Fraser was not making much progress as he was stopped by Bailey who was already on a yellow. A Francis cross come shot though saw the away crowd lifted as the ball just looped onto the roof of the net.

In the next move Millwall really should have put the game to bed. Elphick slipped and let in Jackson but Jackson shot wide with just Camp to beat! Scott Malone also came close with an attempt from a knockdown but his shot bounced up onto the roof of the net.

AFCB tried to change things up by going three at the back and pushing up Daniels while Pitman came on for Fraser. But Millwall were managing the game well and were having the best of the chances. Just to underline that Jackson again shot wide on 76 minutes. Rantie was still trying to beat every player in front of him but was perhaps running out of steam. Pitman added fresh impetus and his link up with Yann Kermorgant on 80 minutes almost paid off when he ran inside and played Surman in on the angle only for Surman to see his shot saved by Forde!

Ritchie picked up a yellow card for a foul on Jackson when he was running away and threatening Bournemouth's goal. From the free kick Jackson headed just pass the post. AFCB mounted another good opportunity with Pitman passing to Rantie who brought a good save out of Forde on 84 minutes, but you felt by then that it wasn't going to happen for the Cherries. They just couldn't get enough momentum going.

Malone was subbed on 85 minutes as Fredericks came on to see the game out. With three minutes of extra time there was just one more chance and it fell to Pitman who saw his shot go agonisingly wide from the right side with the goal really at his mercy. So it finished 1-0 to the home side and I have to say it was well deserved on the day.

Millwall had plenty of chances to make this a bigger score line and while they were happy just to get the three points, Eddie Howe will not be pleased with that finish to the season. It was a poor game and the finishing was just off from both teams. Had Bournemouth needed a win you felt that a different team would have been selected and the shooting from those not at the game might well have been sharper. While there was effort it was not the slick passing machine that we have seen for much of the season and I don't blame our players for taking the foot off of the gas a bit. Eddie Howe though has high standards and this performance was a little short of what he would have liked to have seen. Still, I congratulate Millwall and look forward to playing them again in the Championship next season.
Millwall fans ignore the pleads to stay off the pitch.
Millwall fans surround their players.

Millwall safety secured, but not the best day for the Cherries.
Match Highlights

Camp, Smith (Franics 45), Cook, Elphick, Daniels, Ritchie, O'Kane (MacDonald 45), Surman, Fraser (Pitman 72), Rantie, Kermorgant

Pitman, Allsop, Coulibaly, Harte, MacDonald, Pugh, Francis

AFCB Ratings
Camp 6, Smith 6, Cook 7, Elphick 7, Daniels 6, Ritchie 5, O'Kane 6, Surman 6, Fraser 6, Rantie 6,
Kermorgant 7

Forde, Edwards, Malone (Fredereicks 85), Williams, Dunne, Beevers (Robinson 33), Bailey, Maierhofer (Jackson 63), Gorvan, Woolford, Morison

Millwall Subs
Robinson, Easter, Jackson, Abdou, McDonald, Bywater, Fredericks

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