"And Best in Show goes to...."
Millwall's talented and exceptional Irish Wolfhound, who pulls the strings in the midfield is out injured. Our Yorkshire Terrier in the heart of our defence would not be eagerly chasing balls for the rest of season and our reliable old Welsh Corgi up front had a stomach tear after too many aggressive belly rubs from over enthusiastic opponent's centre defenders. Our squad was as thin as a Whippet and the travelling dog show had travelled down from Birmingham for Saturday's game under the flood lights. Neil Harris and Dave Livermore had to travel to Millwall's equivalent of Battersea Dog's Home to look for players who could fill these massive voids.
Our prized pups came out to an encouraging applause. There was a lot of support, however there was a slight worry from the home fans. Although not the best of starts for Birmingham, the Blues had taken three points from league leaders Cardiff in their last and we hadn't beaten Birmingham at our kennel for 147 dog years. The signs didn't look good and although Steve Morison was surprisingly in the starting line up, this game looked like it would end in a whimper.
The game started quick and lively, with our energetic but clumsy puppies jumping around chasing a ball that spent a lot of time in the air. Passes were going wayward and not finding their targets, but Millwall were already showing more promise and fight than they did against Barnsley and Reading. Lee Gregory had Millwall's first real effort of the game, when he turned as quick as a dog chasing his tail from a Steve Morison flick on, then firing just wide in the 11th minute. Our players were starting to show their pedigree with O'Brien going close with an effort in the 16th minute and some lovely link up play between Morison and Gregory in the 20th minute. Our purebreds up front were like border collies, rounding up and dictating where the obedient sheep in the Birmingham defence should go. They say you cannot teach old dogs new tricks and Moro didn't need to learn anything, showing moments of brilliance from years gone by and being a constant threat. Birmingham were playing like toothless mongrels that had been neutered. Apart from a poor training ground free-kick routine in the 40th minute that went nowhere, they offered very little and there was only one loyal hound that would have the winner's rosette pinned on to them at the end of the game. Morison came close again with a good volley in the 42nd minute, growling and drooling like an angry Rottweiler on a chain that would break any minute before The Blues had an undeserved chance that just went wide of the target. Half time sounded and our boys had successfully jumped over jumps and ran through tunnels like the favourite for Crufts on the assault course. The judges in the stands scores were in and Millwall were clear favourites to win.
Barely one minute into the second half and the excellent Steve Morison picked up the ball and a Millwall goal was the reward from a dangerous low cross in the box. Morison was a dog with a bone, playing tug of war with the ball refusing to let go. Although an own goal, the Millwall fans were celebrating and acknowledging the hard work Morison had put into that goal. After an inconsistent start to this year's Championship, Moro was showing the fans he was still Man's Best Friend. Millwall were continuing to dominate, with Birmingham showing no signs of the animal that took three points off from the Welsh team currently top of the league. They may have been Golden Retrievers who had retrieved the Bluebirds that Steve Cotterill shot down from the sky last week, but this week Birmingham's manager had left his shotgun at home.
Jed Wallace was superb in the midfield, with passing that at times Shaun Williams would have been proud to say he had laid off and the magnificent Ryan Tunnicliffe was like an angry pit-bull, getting stuck in with big tackles and chasing and snapping at the heels of the opposition. Steve Morison's last contribution of the game resulted in another outstanding effort which was saved superbly by Tomazs Kuszczak in the 72nd minute. Our Welsh Terrier then left the pitch to a standing ovation with a cut on his head, which required stitches from the vet and possibly one of those cones round his head to stop him scratching.
Morison was replaced by Tom Elliott who made an instant impression. A ball was played out to Elliott who ran like a young and enthusiastic greyhound on his debut race. The traps opened and he sped towards the first corner with the hare in his sights, his red boots made him resemble the inside trap with the red vest on. The red vest has the number one printed on it and Elliott made sure he was first to the ball. A huge bite could only be palmed away from the goalkeeper to the excellent Tunnicliffe who put the ball in the back of the net making it 2-0 in the 76th minute.
The final whistle sounded and our show poodles had risen to the challenge. The travelling dog show from the Midlands had left with their tails between their legs and in this form our hounds would win at Crufts. This was Millwall's first win over Birmingham at home for a long time and it was Millwall's dog that had their day.
🏆 Man of the Match 🏆
Energetic, enthusiastic, never-say-die performance. Great finish when it'd be easier to miss, Tunnicliffe is really starting to show his class and talent.
💬 Fans after thought 💬
This week's fan after thought after our brilliant 2-0 win is Mr Stephen Jones.
Favourite player this season:
Favourite all time Millwall player:
Greatest Millwall Moment:
Tim Cahill putting us ahead in the FA Cup Semi Final. One of the greatest players we'll ever have producing one of the greatest moments we'll ever have was perfect.
What did you think of today’s game:
We needed to bounce back after two poor results and all 11 (and subs) reacted just how we needed them to. Much like many of the games, I think it could and should have been 3 or 4-0, but three points is the main thing.
What do you think of the season so far:
We've more than held our own in the majority of games, a little surprised we seem to have settled as well as we have in this division, but Harris has recruited well and we have a first team more than capable to take on anyone in the division and I'm very pleased so far!