In a new series on Nischal’s Blog, Post-match thoughts are my personal reflections and analysis on every football game I attend in the 2019/20 season.
After two games in Switzerland to begin my season, I was back in London. With the pair of Luzern games far from thrillers, it was back home to see Millwall host Sheffield Wednesday at the Den.
Both sides went into the game in fine form, with unbeaten starts in the new Championship season. The Lions began the campaign with a win and a draw, while Wednesday had won both of their opening games and looked to continue that way.
In my first time back at the Den in 11 months, I was excited to return to Bermondsey (a line you wouldn’t expect to hear). In a physical and hardly fought English affair, it proved to be an excellent Championship encounter.
A classic Millwall performance
After Millwall avoided relegation by just four points last season, they were determined to start the new season strong. A home win against Preston North End and a hard fought draw at West Brom gave the Lions a strong start, as they came into Saturday’s game hoping to remain unbeaten.
From the first whistle, Millwall laid their mark on their opponents and fought hard. Every header and every challenge was executed with ferocity and determination, with the Lions winning every battle going for the goal straight away.
Throughout the game they were good in midfield, winning every ball and deservedly scoring through Matt Smith’s towering header. However, Jed Wallace’s rash, reckless and stupid tackle saw him rightly sent off, meaning that Millwall had to play the second half down to 10 men.
With a one-goal lead and one less player, Millwall really sat back and battled to hang onto their lead. The second half was lacklustre in attack, purely because they were so focused on containing their revived opponents and holding onto their advantage.
It’s not surprising that they chose to sit on their lead, but they did it in style in a superb defensive performance. While they sat back and punted every ball far away when they had the chance, Millwall’s focus and desire to secure the win was fantastic, and they eventually saw out their deserved win.
Millwall will be delighted with the win, and rightly so. It was a typical Millwall performance, as they played with grit and physicality to win the three points. Neil Harris can be proud of his players, as they produced a wonderful performance.
Standout Player: Ben Thompson
There were many excellent performers for Millwall on Saturday, making this a tough choice. Goalkeeper Bartosz Białkowski made 9 saves and played brilliantly to keep the visitors at bay, while Mahlon Romeo fought hard and was superb at right-back.
However, my man of the match was midfielder Ben Thompson. He was outstanding all game, dictating and controlling the game as well as making some excellent tackles and fighting for every ball. Thompson worked tirelessly all game long, and deservedly earns my man of the match.
Second-half fight not enough for the Owls
Sheffield Wednesday opened their season with back-to-back wins over Reading and Barnsley, and were looking for a third win on the bounce. While their form was marginally better going into the game, it was always going to be an arduous task to emerge from the Den with three points.
It was clear from the start that the Owls were no match on a physical level with Millwall. Injury after injury, tackle after tackle and header after header, Sheffield Wednesday couldn’t cope with their hosts’ physicality and brutality.
They created some decent chances in the first half, moving the ball well out wide to no avail. Going behind to Millwall was always going to be hard to recover from, and after a dogged first half display the Owls upped their game after the restart.
Sheffield Wednesday went all out in the second half, throwing everything they had at the hosts in an attempt to draw level. They created good chances and had some great opportunities, but good goalkeeping, solid defending and wasted chances saw the visitors edged out in a frustrating game.
Their second half dominance is summed up in the overall match stats. Lee Bullen’s side had 70% possession, put together twice as many passes as Millwall and had 21 total shots, in comparison to Millwall’s three.
Sheffield Wednesday put together good chances and a good fight down in south London, but they couldn’t break down a resilient Millwall side nor take their chances as they were inflicted their first defeat of the season.
Standout player: Kadeem Harris
Winger Kadeem Harris caused the most problems for Millwall’s defence and created the best chances, with his burst of pace and good footwork propelling the Owls’ attack. Harris was positive going forward and played very well, with his whipped crosses and silky skills pivotal for Sheffield Wednesday.
While he did falter and lost momentum in the second half, his battle with Romeo was exciting to watch. The Millwall full-back came out on top in the end, but Harris was certainly a handful down at the Den on Saturday afternoon.
The atmosphere was electric at the Den, as the Millwall fans maintained their standards of a fantastic atmosphere. They roared the players on to victory as they always do, with the 2,000 travelling fans also contributing to a fantastic sound.
The game overall was actually very good, and though there was only one goal in it was a decent battle. Seeing the quality increase from the Swiss Super League to the Championship was intriguing, as Millwall secured another hard fought win in a perfect afternoon in Bermondsey.