By Jake Sanders at The Den
MILLWALL’S wretched home record continued on Tuesday evening, although Gary Rowett’s men collected a deserved point against promotion-chasing Watford in a goalless draw in SE16.
Jake Cooper crashed against the post in first-half stoppage-time and then saw his header seconds later marginally ruled out for offside in what was a game of few chances for the goal-shy Lions.
It’s now 10 without victory in all competitions at The Den for Millwall, who’ve only taken 14 points from their 12 home Championship matches this term, although the point was enough to move them above Cardiff and up to 15th in the table.
Following a quiet opening third, the Lions came close to taking a 31st minute lead. Kenneth Zohore showed great strength and control to find Jed Wallace, who picked out the onrushing Danny McNamara, making his competitive home debut for Millwall, to his right. The right wing-back then galloped forward before sending over a delicious delivery for Zohore, but the on-loan West Brom striker failed to connect from point-blank range.
Moments later, Wallace saw his deflected effort comfortably saved by Daniel Bachmann, whilst Millwall survived a major scare up the other end.
Cooper conceded a free-kick that former Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley swung into a dangerous area which forced Shaun Hutchinson to slice onto the post, before Andre Gray was unable to convert the rebound.
Gray and Troy Deeney then combined, but the former was unable to keep his effort down following some neat work by the Hornets skipper.
Millwall then needed the busy Hutchinson to make a crucial intervention moments before Bartosz Bialkowski was forced into making his first meaningful save of the evening when he smothered Ismaila Sarr’s close-range effort.
The Lions almost made Watford pay for those missed opportunities right on the stroke of half-time, though. Firstly, Cooper’s towering heading came back off the post before the Millwall centre-back was then denied by an offside flag when nodding home Wallace’s inswinging free-kick, as the sides somehow went into the break goalless.
Ten minutes into the second period Gray and Deeney linked up once more, but the latter’s effort was deflected behind for a corner by Hutchinson, before Scott Malone’s curling effort with the outside of his boot went wide of the right-hand post.
Nathaniel Chalobah was next to go close, but Bialkowski palmed away his powerful long-range strike before the ex-Ipswich Town goalkeeper saved well from Deeney’s acrobatic follow-up.
Both sides pushed hard for a late winner, but the second half was a non-event, although Sarr could have stolen it at the death for the visitors, but fluffed his lines.
Maikel Kieftenbeld thrown straight in for his debut
Less than 48 hours after Maikel Kieftenbeld was confirmed as the Lions’ first January signing, the Dutch midfielder was immediately thrown into the starting XI for his Millwall debut.
Kieftenbeld’s arrival at The Den marked the second time in which he’s been signed by Rowett – with the Lions boss initially bringing the 30-year-old to English football during his spell as Birmingham City boss.
And despite his lack of minutes at St Andrew’s this term, he didn’t appear short of match sharpness, although that shouldn’t come as a great surprise considering he started the Blues’ win at Preston last Wednesday, one of six appearances he’s managed already this calendar year.
Kieftenbeld completed the full 90 minutes in what was a tidy and encouraging first performance in a Millwall shirt.
Millwall still unable to find that home win
Fans or no fans, Millwall simply must improve at The Den, otherwise they’re seriously running the risk of getting dragged into the most unlikeliest of relegation battles.
While this was most definitely a point gained against a side that boast a number of players that are good enough to play in the Premier League, it’s just one victory from 12 Championship home games for the Lions.
To put that into context, Millwall had managed six victories from their opening 12 last term, and one fewer the season before that under Neil Harris.
Millwall: 3-5-2: Bialkowski; Leonard, Hutchinson, Cooper; McNamara, Woods, Kieftenbeld, Thompson (Bennett 72′); Wallace (Williams 85′), Zohore (Bodvarsson 72′).
Subs not used: Fielding, Romeo, Pearce, Smith, Parrott, Bradshaw.
Image: Millwall FC