Over 2,000 Lions fans headed north on Sunday to Bradford for the 1st Leg of the play off semi-final confident that there would be no repeat performance or lack of it against Bradford like there was in the FA Cup replay last season. Although we played some 9 weeks ago in the league & lost 1-0, it is that cup game that lingers in the memory of Lions fans where we were totally humiliated.
The Millwall starting 11 had 2 changes from the game against Gillingham, Carlos Edwards was in at right back for Mahlon Romeo who will now miss the rest of the season. Up front was Lee Gregory started alongside Steve Morison. With Aiden O’Brien reverting to the bench.
Bradford went with a 4-4-1-1 line up & Millwall went with 4-4-2, the ref was Dean Whitestone.
In the opening exchanges up to the 13th minute Millwall had been the better side then a cross come up from the Millwall right the ball dropped amongst a number of players then all you see was Bradford players appealing the next thing you saw was the ref signal for a spot kick . Eventually the penalty was taken and Tony McMahon sent Archer the wrong way & put Bradford 1 up. The Millwall Fans behind the goal could actually see what the penalty was given for, but those of us on the right could not see why. I found out later it was a Joe Martin handball there was no doubt, why he put his hand up only he knows. But 2 minutes later Millwall drew level when from close range Gregory scored after swivelling round in the area from a Morison knock down the Bradford keeper Williams had no chance.
Millwall was gradually taking control of the 1st half, then ex Millwall reject Morais went near in the 24th minute for Bradford with a shot which went wide.
Acting Lions skipper put the lions in front on the 35th minute with a bullet header from a Ferguson cross which went in off the bar the keeper Williams had no chance. Then in the 44th minute the Lions went 3-1 up from a free kick after Lee Gregory was fouled. Joe Martin curled an absolute beauty, he had made up for handball. For as good as the free kick was, in my opinion the keeper should have done better & I suspect was disappointed when he saw the replay.
Millwall had controlled the 1st half & the view was if they keep score same or got another then effectively it would be game over. It would be a formality at the den in the 2nd leg & Millwall would be back at Wembley for the 4th time in just over 7 years.
But Bradford came out for the 2nd half unbroken & when their supporters saw that they responded, the fear amongst the Lions supporters was if they got one back it would be game on & we would be hanging on. Bradford in the second half was in total control to such an effect we not have a single shot on their goal until. Finally the ref blew for time and the travelling lion’s fans were well happy and we are looking forward to Friday night & the 2nd leg. But a word of warning we take nothing for granted & our application & work rate is right then we will win.
Bradford Line up: Williams, Darby, McArdle, Clarke ,Meredith, McMahon (82 mins Anderson), Cullen, Evans, Reid Morais (Davies 70 mins), Procter
Subs: Morris, Leigh,Routis,Thorpe,Davies , Anderson
Millwall Line up: Archer, Edwards, Webster, Beevers, Martin (Craig 71), Ferguson (Williams 90), Thompson, Abdou, Taylor, Gregory, Morison
Subs: Forde, Craig, Williams, Upson, Onyedinma, Nelson