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[Archived] News Article -> 2012/13 FA Cup Match Report: Millwall 0 Rovers 0

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FA Cup 6th Round

Millwall(0) 0 – 0 (0)Blackburn Rovers

Referee: M. Atkinson Attendance: 14,885

My first experience of watching Millwall came in December 1966 following our relegation to the Second Division. As someone brought up watching Dougie and Ronnie Clayton on a weekly basis and appreciating the likes of Bobby Charlton, Johnny Haynes, Jimmy Greaves and so many more on their annual visits to Ewood Park, the men from The Den came as something of a culture shock. The Millwall team that day comprised of a number of players who held legendary status around Cold Blow Lane. The likes of Harry Cripps, John Gilchrist, Eamon Dunphy, Len Julians and the rest played the game in a tough and totally uncompromising manner. A snow-covered Ewood Park that day witnessed a brand of football that was different from what many had experienced in the higher division. This was Millwall and if no one liked them, they really didn't care.

Fast forward to a Sunday in March 2013 and, whilst the names may have changed, Millwall's brand of football was still the same. Strong-arm tactics would be the kindest way of describing their no-nonsense approach and the flowing football which they demonstrated at Ewood Park earlier in the season was nowhere to be seen. Bloodied but unbowed the Rovers left The Den to fight another day, but one suspects the toll of this bruising encounter may well have a bearing on the replay on Wednesday night.

With David Jones, Cameron Stewart and DJ Campbell cup-tied, Appleton was forced to shuffle the pack and Leon Best, Josh King and David Bentley returned to the starting eleven.

The game quickly settled down to a fairly robust affair with the home side not holding back when it came to making challenges. Some were perfectly legal, whilst others stretched the boundaries of the acceptable. The stray elbow from Rob Hulse which cut the eye of Scott Dann, the Rovers' new club captain, was a taste of what was to come.

As regards the actual football it was the Rovers who carved out the first opening when a clever piece of play from Bentley enabled Jordan Rhodes to break clear, but the man mountain that is Danny Shittu got a crucial touch just as Rhodes was looking to shoot.

The home side, roared on by their fans, started to enjoy more possession, which produced a couple of half-chances. Jack Smith, who was Millwall's standout player in the centre of midfield, fired wide, whilst an effort from Liam Trotter curled just wide of Jake Kean's post.

What appeared to be a recurrence of a hamstring injury forced Adam Henley out of the action and he was replaced by Bradley Orr. However, Orr himself appeared shaken when he threw himself into a full-blooded challenge with Danny Shittu but continued without treatment.

On the brink of half-time a header from Andy Keogh struck the foot of the post and rolled tantalisingly across the goal before being cleared. It was the closest that either side came to opening the scoring.

As in the first period it was the Rovers who had the first chance of the second half. After 47 minutes a cross from Bentley was helped on by Best and broke for Rhodes on the left of the six-yard box. The Scottish striker took aim but somehow managed to fire across goal and narrowly over. It was the sort of chance that Rhodes has been taking all season but on this occasion it was not to be.

Shortly afterwards Orr was forced to leave the field and was replaced by David Dunn, which meant another reshuffle with Jason Lowe dropping to right-back.

Once again, Millwall gradually gained the upper hand in terms of possession and Kean was called into action to make a super save from a 45-yard power driver from Shittu. The Millwall skipper made perfect contact with the ball and Kean did well to keep it out.

However, within minutes Kean was helpless as Millwall missed the chance of the game. A cross from Andy Keogh found Hulse in front of goal no more than six yards out. With an empty net gaping in front of him the striker inexplicably blazed the ball over the bar.

The Rovers had to wait until 77 minutes before they carved out another good opportunity and, once again, it came from a Morten Gamst Pedersen corner-kick which found the head of Dann with radar-like accuracy. The Rovers skipper headed the ball back across goal where King met it and crashed a header against the woodwork.

This was a game in which chances were at a premium as both sides slugged it out in a ferocious battle which was not for the purist or faint of heart. At the end of the day a draw was a fair result as neither side did enough to justify a place in the semi-final at the first attempt.

This was a gutsy performance by a Rovers side that suffered a number of injuries during the game which required some adjustment to the line-up.

Jake Kean enjoyed another fine game and dominated his area with a series of punched clearances which helped out his centre-backs.

Once again Scott Dann and Grant Hanley defended valiantly despite the physical pressure that they were constantly put under. Dann played with a bandaged head after the clash with Hulse, whilst Hanley ended the first half hobbling badly after being on the receiving end of some heavy challenges.

Three players occupied the right-back position during the course of the game, whilst Markus Olsson held his own at left-back. Adam Henley and Bradley Orr both looked comfortable before they succumbed to injuries and, once again, Jason Lowe looked impressive when switched to full-back after Orr's departure.

The central-midfield pairing of Jason Lowe and Morten Gamst Pedersen certainly provided more energy than has been seen of late in this area of the field. Both players worked hard providing defensive cover and whilst not every deadball kick by Pedersen found its target, he certainly delivered a number of decent crosses into the danger area.

David Bentley enjoyed a much better game until a scything challenge cut him down in the second half and required his knee to be strapped up. Although he continued to provide some welcome guile after the injury, he was clearly not able to run as freely as he might have liked. On the opposite flank Josh King had a disappointing game and appeared to be anything but match-fit.

The real bonus in midfield was the sight of Dunny returning, albeit from the bench as a second-half substitute. He immediately took control of that area of the team and his runs at the home defence caused them problems. Always calm in possession, Dunny still looks a class act compared with some who have filled the midfield this season.

In attack the Leon Best and Jordan Rhodes partnership never quite gelled, but then again it's early days in terms of this partnership. Neither player made much headway against Danny Shittu, who was immense for Millwall. An old-fashioned centre-half whose physical build allows him to dominate opponents, neither Rhodes nor Best could get the better of him. There is no doubt that switching from defence to attack is an area that Appleton still needs to work on, but with games coming thick and fast he really hasn't had that much opportunity to get down to some serious tactical work on the training ground.

Whilst it was not for the purists, I must admit that the game was intriguing and the atmosphere on the ground was excellent with a large following from Blackburn making their voices heard throughout.



David Forde; Alan Dunne, Danny Shittu, Mark Beevers; Jack Smith, Chris Taylor; Andy Keogh, Liam Trotter, Dany N'Guessan, Shane Lowry; Rob Hulse

Subs not used: Maik Taylor (gk), John Marquis, Liam Feeney, Adam Smith, Nadjim Abdou, Karleigh Osborne, George Saville

Manager: Kenny Jackett

Blackburn Rovers

Jake Kean; Adam Henley (Bradley Orr 37; David Dunn 48), Scott Dann, Grant Hanley, Markus Olsson; David Bentley, Jason Lowe, Morten Gamst Pedersen, Joshua King; Jordan Rhodes, Leon Best

Subs not used: Grzegorz Sandomierski (gk), Gael Givet, Nuno Gomes, Karim Rekik, David Goodwillie

Manager: Michael Appleton


Millwall – David Forde, Shane Lowry, Andy Keogh

Blackburn Rovers – Markus Olsson, Jason Lowe, Leon Best, Grant Hanley

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