By Alex Grace at The Den
MILLWALL’S three-match winning run came to a shuddering halt at The Den on Saturday lunchtime as they lost 3-0 to Swansea City – with their play-off chances now appearing over.
Andre Ayew opened the scoring in first-half stoppage time with a curling effort from outside the box.
Jamal Lowe then scored a second-half double to secure all three points for Steve Cooper’s side as Millwall spurned the chance to close the gap to sixth to five points in the early kick-off.
Millwall created the first real chance of the game. A neat interchange between Jed Wallace and Danny McNamara finished with George Evans’ shot being deflected for a corner from which Jake Cooper headed wide.
Two minutes later, Mason Bennett found space inside the box but headed straight at Swans stopper Freddie Woodman.
On 13 minutes, Wallace’s corner was headed towards goal by Murray Wallace, Kyle Naughton was forced to clear but the referee’s whistle had been blown for a foul on Woodman.
Millwall were given a warning on 21 minutes. Lowe – who was linked with a move to Millwall in the previous two summers – linked up with Wayne Routledge and curled a shot into the hands of Bart Bialkowski, though the offside flag had been raised.
On 27 minutes, a ball from Connor Hourihane found Lowe in behind the Millwall defence but Bialkowski was equal to the former Wigan Athletic striker’s effort.
The visitors took the lead in first-half stoppage time. Scott Malone gave Ayew far too much space on the right. The defender was then beaten by the Swansea striker who curled a cracking effort past Bialkowksi into the top corner leaving the Pole with little chance of keeping it out. Malone would have been disappointed with the way he allowed the striker cut past him to shift the ball on to his stronger left side.
Millwall came very close to levelling at the start of the second half. Malone’s free-kick was met by Cooper, and his header looked to have gone in but it was clawed off the line after hitting the inside of the post.
Routledge, making his first start of the season for the visitors, then went close to doubling Swansea’s lead. He combined with Ayew before powering a shot towards goal that Bialkowski parried away.
On 58 minutes, McNamara fizzed a ball across the box for Mason Bennett but he stabbed the shot wide of the post.
Just after the hour-mark, Gary Rowett made a triple substitution, Kenneth Zohore, Connor Mahoney and Mahlon Romeo all introduced as Millwall reverted to a back four. Mahoney did create a chance for Wallace but he was marshalled really well by Marc Guehi – forcing the effort out for a goal-kick.
On 76 minutes, Swansea sealed the points. Routledge picked out Lowe who then powered into the box and smashed the ball past Bialkowski into the back of the net.
Lowe then added the visitors’ third. Ayew once again caused the Lions defence problems. He crossed the ball into Lowe who then just as he did with his first goal hit the ball with plenty of power past Bialkowski.
Winning run ends
Millwall came into the game looking for a fourth league win in a row, which would have been a first in the Rowett era.
But after Ayew’s curling effort past Bialkowski they were always chasing the game.
Millwall had their chances early on. Cooper’s header from the corner was the closest they came.
The Swans dominated the second half and took the deserved three points. The final score will be one that Millwall will feel is flattering to their visitors but their attentions will now turn to ending the season in the strongest possible manner.
Lions’ academy products prove their worth once again
Millwall have a proud history of using their academy to bring players through and they appear to have succeeded again – albeit it’s early days – with both Billy Mitchell and McNamara.
The latter has been excellent since he burst onto the scene in January following a loan at St Johnstone in the first half of the campaign.
He got up the wing brilliantly all afternoon, and he is certainly going to give a regular challenge to Mahlon Romeo and that can only be a good thing.
Rowett will be very encouraged with the way he has been able to link up with Jed Wallace – who also has a great understanding with Romeo.
Mitchell has also been excellent since making his first start of the season this year, having been out injured for so long.
The role he has been given is to start Millwall’s attacks and his distribution was very good once again. He got the ball moving well to create the chance for Evans, moving it out wide into space.
In McNamara and Mitchell, Millwall have two academy products who look like they could be cornerstones of the team over the next few years.
Rowett made one change from the side that won 2-1 at Stoke on Easter Monday.
Maikel Kieftenbled was back in the starting line-up. He replaced Zohore who dropped to the bench.
Bennett and Wallace started up front and Ryan Woods returned to the bench.
Millwall: 5-3-2 Bialkowski; McNamara (Romeo, 61), M Wallace, Pearce (Zohore, 61), Cooper, Malone; Evans, Mitchell (Williams, 78), Kieftenbeld (Mahoney, 61); Bennett (Bodvarsson, 78), J Wallace
Subs: Fielding, Williams, Ferguson, Woods, Bradshaw.
Image: Millwall FC