Millwall 2 v Saints 3
Sat 17th March 2012
Saints began the game patiently as they attempted to find a way through the Lion's rearguard. They probed on both flanks but the first real chance fell to Rickie Lambert from a long ball from Adam Lallana. Lambert's strong drive from 20 odd yards flew goalwards before smashing onto the crossbar and rebounding out for the defenders to clear.
The reprise was short lived though as on 16 minutes Danny Fox played a superb ball down the left flank for Morgan Schneiderlin who beat his man before passing across the box for Lambert to hit the ball home. Saints fans sang joyously but the joyful mood did not last for long.
Saints tried a couple of long distance shots before Millwall broke forward with Keogh who shot hard only for the ball to hit the post. Sadly for Saints it rebounded onto Jose Fonte's knee and deflected into the net for an own goal credited to the defender.
This stroke of fortune livened up the Lions team and very soon the game had been turned on it's head as Millwall went into the lead. Hesitancy in Saints defence in clearing a corner allowed Paul Robinson a free chance which he smashed into the back of the net with a fierce drive.
From there on the game became a more evenly matched affair though neither side was able to make a telling mark. Both keepers had saves to make and at half time the Lions led 2-1.
Steve De Ridder came on for Richard Chaplow as manager Nigel Adkins switched things hoping to find the spark to reignite our attacking flair. It nearly worked as within a couple of minutes he had a chance but it went begging.
The game became a middle of the park affair as neither side would concede ground and time drifted by with Saints becoming more frustrated. Saints kept probing but Kelvin Davis had to come to their rescue with an excellent save from Hamer Bouazza.As the hour mark was reached Billy Sharp was brought on for Dean Hammond.
Again the switch nearly proved fruitful as it was Sharp who provided De Ridder with another opportunity. A corner was forced and from it Jos Hooiveldt headed wide.
Saints were still struggling to break through a resilient Millwall defence and with the time running out it looked ever more likely that the most we could hope for was to sneak a late draw.
Enter the gladiator who took it upon himself to regain the initiative. Rickie Lambert was felled in the penalty area and was awarded a penalty. 84th minute and we waited praying that our talisman would give us what we wanted. We shouldn't have worried though because the spot kick was driven superbly into the net for the equalizer.
Four minutes later and a Saints corner was palmed away by Alan Dunne to give us another penalty. Now the nerves were really showing. Rickie stepped up and placed the ball on the spot before backing away. Would he go the same way and would the keeper guess we wondered.
We all watched as Rickie ran up and drove the ball home with the keeper going the wrong way. Not as well taken as the first but the ball was in the back of the net. How the fans loved it as they bellowed out their approval.
Adam Lallana was replaced with Jack Cork as we saw out the remaining few minutes. The referee blew his whistle and we had turned defeat into unlikely victory though it has to be said with more than a little assistance from Millwall themselves.
Not that we were complaining as it meant three more points to add to our tally and we were still top.
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Who else could be after yet another hat trick?
Hammond, Chaplow and Schneiderlin is not a trio I think works well together. However after the changes we looked a lot better.
Kenny must be wondering what he did wrong as it was only the penalties that stopped his side winning.