By Alex Grace at The Hawthorns
MILLWALL came from behind to secure a well-earned point at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday afternoon.
Kyle Bartley gave the hosts the lead in the 49th minute but, just six minutes later Daniel Ballard drew the Lions level with his first Millwall goal.
Bartosz Bialkowski saved Karlan Grant’s penalty in first-half stoppage time.
It took until the 11th minute for the first shot of the game, Billy Mitchell’s effort from the edge of the box was comfortable for Sam Johnstone. The hosts replied with a shot of their own, Grady Diangana dragging wide of the far post a minute later.
On 39 minutes, Semi Ajayi got his header back to Johnstone all wrong, allowing Jed Wallace to nip in but the goalkeeper denied him from close range.
Just as half-time approached, the hosts were awarded a penalty after Maikel Kieftenbeld was adjudged to have fouled Diangana. Up stepped Grant but he was denied by Bialkowski as neither side could break the deadlock before the break.
Four minutes into the second half, the home side took the lead. Millwall’s problems dealing with crosses struck again – Conor Townsend’s ball headed into the net by Bartley.
The Lions almost levelled instantly. Scott Malone’s free-kick into the box fell to Murray Wallace but somehow he diverted his shot wide of the far post.
That was a warning for West Brom and just four minutes later the visitors equalised. Malone’s corner came out to Wallace and he crossed back in for Ballard at the far post to head home superbly.
Millwall were now in the ascendancy and could have taken the lead as a lovely counter-attack led by Malone broke down at the final hurdle as his ball just evaded both Shey Ojo and Wallace.
On 74 minutes, Ajayi under-hit his header for a second time in the game, allowing Ojo a one-on-one with Johnstone but the England international stopper once again came out on top and Malone headed the rebound over the bar.
Lions concede another sloppy goal
The goals that Millwall have conceded this season will infuriate Gary Rowett. Each and every single one of them has been avoidable. The Lions were so strong at defending last season. It has been anything but so far this campaign.
Townsend had all the time in the world to pick out Bartley in the middle and he managed to beat Jake Cooper in the air and loft his header over the outstretched arms of Bialkowksi.
It’s the seventh time in all competitions this season that a cross into the box has led to the opposition finding the back of Millwall’s net. A problem that needs rectifying soon.
There was a positive at the other end as Ballard – voted player of the month for August by Millwall fans on NewsAtDen – got his first Lions goal and second in a week-and-a-half after he opened his international account for Northern Ireland.
Ojo thrown in from the start
Shey Ojo joined Millwall on Deadline Day for a season-long loan and was thrown in at the deep end with the Lions dealt yet another injury blow as Benik Afobe was ruled out with a knee injury.
The Liverpool attacker played a key role as Millwall came on strong towards the end of the first half, his header down into the ground forcing Ajayi’s error to allow Wallace in on goal, only for Johnstone to deny him.
He looks a player that will fit well into the Lions’ system and someone who when he is match fit will be another good addition to the side. You feel if he had full match sharpness then he may have taken the chance presented to him by Ajayi.
Bialkowski answers the call
The Lions’ number one did not have an awful lot to do in the first half, but just as he was preparing for his half-time snack the referee pointed to the spot following Kieftenbled’s foul on Diangana.
The keeper kept his cool and showed why he has been voted Millwall’s player of the season for two years in a row by keeping out Grant’s spot-kick and ensuring the Lions would go into the second period on level terms.
He also did well in the second half denying the hosts with a couple of decent saves.
Rowett made one change from the victory over Blackpool, with Ojo replacing Afobe.
Millwall: 5-2-3: Bialkowski; Mitchell (Leonard 80’), Ballard, M Wallace, Cooper, Malone; Saville, Kieftenbeld; Ojo (Bennett 80’), Smith, J Wallace.
Subs not used: Long, Pearce, Bradshaw, Mahoney, Thompson
Booked: Ballard 42’ M Wallace 59’ Smith 90’
Image: Millwall FC