Two prides of Lions faced off at The New Den today, but for Aston Villa fans – the wrong one came out on top.
Words by Harry Trend (@HazaTrand)
Tom Elliot’s finish just after half-time means it’s now one win in ten for a Villa side desperately lacking direction.
Sure, a mishmash of a backline didn’t help, but Kevin MacDonald’s side looked disjointed in every area of the pitch today and got exactly what they deserved from the game. Nothing.
We started brightly though, and were ahead with seven minutes gone. Tammy Abraham meeting Conor Hourihane’s free-kick from the right with a Paulo Di Canio esque volley.
But Millwall were fired up and reacted well, Orjan Nyland was called into action when he tipped Jed Wallace’s deflected shot around the post. Then Jake Cooper headed over Shaun Williams corner.
A Lions goal was coming, and it was Shane Ferguson who got it, the former Blues man arriving from deep in the Villa area to volley in Cooper’s header via a deflection.
We were up against it now, and if not for Axel Tuanzebe’s brave block from Lee Gregory’s effort, Millwall could’ve been ahead. Needless to say, that half-time whistle came as a relief to everyone in a white Villa shirt.
Three minutes into the second half, Millwall’s pressure was rewarded. Villa’s makeshift back line failed to clear a corner and Elliot pounced to drive home his first league goal of the season.
Jack Grealish was one of the few men in a white shirt trying to make something happen for Villa, it didn’t help that he was being scythed down every two minutes though. The Solihull born midfielder’s dipping shot was fumbled by goalkeeper Ben Amos but gathered on the second attempt.
Then a flying James Bree couldn’t head Ahmed Elmohamady’s cross on target, it would turn out to be the Pride’s last real chance of the afternoon. Soon after Shaun Williams hit the underside of the bar from Millwall’s umpteenth corner.
The game showed how much of a difference being well drilled and organised makes, every Millwall player knew exactly what they were doing in both halves of the pitch.
A late spell of pressure from Villa incentivised by Yannick Bolasie’s introduction couldn’t come to fruition. The home side were camping around their penalty area, blocking all openings. For a brief moment I was taken back to the latter stages of the Paul Lambert era when finding a killer ball used to be a weekly problem.
There were flashes of good football today from the Pride, but only flashes. A lot of work needs to be done over the international break by whoever comes in.