"They seek him here. They seek him there. His clothes are loud, but never square."
Ray Davies, the lead singer of the classic British rock band The Kinks, had the unique talent of getting a seemingly basic and simple concept and turning it into a lyrical masterpiece. There was another man in South London today who turned this difficult fixture and guaranteed routine victory for Sheffield United into a masterpiece for The Lions. Thanks to Neil Harris, after 90 minutes, I gazed on Waterloo Sunset and I was in paradise.
After no wins and only three goals in the last six games, Millwall felt like they were in Dead End Street. In a rut that if we didn't sort would result in us sliding further down the table, the last thing the Lions needed was the visit of high flying Sheffield United. The fans were asking What are we living for? As the mood around The Den was one of slight dread. Millwall's form suggested that this would be an easy win for The Blades, but the Millwall side had not read the script.
At the start of the season, Millwall were very shrewd in the transfer market. Neil Harris knew that it would make or break him so he's got to buy the best and Jed Wallace was one of these acquisitions, back in the side after a three match ban. Wallace's enthusiasm and eagerness to win every ball was infectious, rubbing off on Steve Morison and Lee Gregory who looked revitalised with Wallace's return. The only time I feel alright is by your side sang Gregory, who within the opening four minutes was ruled out for offside when through on goal and was unlucky with an effort that was crossed in at just the wrong height.
Sheffield United were rocked by these opening few minutes and although they had an effort that just flew wide of the post in the 8th minute, they offered little. In the 10th minute, David Brooks hit the deck in Millwall's penalty box and although Brooks isn't the world's most physical guy, he wasn't squeezed too tight but made out he broke his spine as he appealed for a penalty. The referee rightly produced a yellow card for simulation.
In the 14th minute, Wallace superbly broke down the right hand flank and put the ball through the Morison who found Lee Gregory in the box. And when he does his little rounds round defenders of London town, there was only one outcome. Calmly turning on a sixpence, Gregory coolly put the ball in the bottom corner and got the goal his opening quarter of an hour deserved.
Millwall were playing some good football, keeping Sheffield United at bay and the team in third place were struggling to build any momentum. A soft effort in the 21st minute was easily held by Archer. Ferguson, not to be outdone by Jed Wallace on the opposite flank was another stand out performer in this opening half an hour with some crosses that were oh so good and oh so fine, although the Lions struggled to get on the end of these crosses. He was playing well, doing the best things so conservatively.
George Saville also came close in the 38th minute with a superb half volley that was matched by an equally superb save from Blackman. The way Millwall were playing, the fans could watch The Lions play all day and all of the night. The home team were easily the better side in the first half and the three points were looking a certainty.
Just before half time and against the run of play, Sheffield United got their equaliser. Some sloppy defending resulted in the ball being picked up on the left and the earlier panto villain put the ball in the top corner in the 41st minute. Brooks may not be the world's most passionate guy, but he wildly celebrated The Blades undeserved goal. The Millwall fans were deflated and when the half time whistle sounded, were wondering if this would be another defeat and Where Have All the Good Times Gone?
The second half started in stark contrast to the first, with our Sunny Afternoon now turning to one of doom and gloom. Sheffield United seemed to be in more space and having an extra yard on our boys in blue, although the impressive Wallace was still running around trying to rejuvenate his team mates.
The Lions passing was going wayward and although Saville managed to dink his way into the penalty area in the 60th minutes he just could not pull the trigger.
In the 66th minute, as like in the first half, the team who were on the back foot were the ones who found the back of the net. Lee Gregory lost the ball upfront but superbly tracked back and won a tackle in the middle of the park. Mahlon Romeo overlapped Jed Wallace and was played through just outside the Sheffield United penalty area. Wallace never set Romeo free, always wanting to be by his side and allowed the ball to roll to the full-back, who calmly put the ball back across goal and into the back of the net.
Millwall were now back in the driving seat and Sheffield United just could not find the rhythm they had at the start of the second half. The final nail in the coffin for The Blades was in the 87th minute when Jake Cooper towered over the Sheffield United team and headed in to make it 3-1. A virtual image of the ball over the line appeared on the screen, but Cooper did not to check. He knew the ball had gone over the line. Millwall's performance had really got me now, it got me so I won't sleep at night.
The final whistle sounded and The Lions were victorious. A score line that made it seem like a better game than it actually was, but a vital three points for Millwall. Every fan was thanking Neil Harris for getting his team to put in such a gutsy performance and I agree.
These are they days that show what Millwall are all about. Chopper, thank you for the days. Those endless days, those sacred days you gave me. Today's performance was the light we needed on our road to Championship safety and I bless the light that shines on you believe me.
🏆 Man of the Match 🏆
Although Lee Gregory and Jed Wallace will get the plaudits today, Romeo was outstanding for me. Showing no signs of rust after being on the bench too long and took his goal superbly.
💬 Fans after thought 💬
This week's fan after thought is Mark Webb from Block 3, who kindly let me interview him after heckling him for five minutes of his time.
Favourite player this season:
All time favourite player:
Greatest Millwall moment:
FA Cup Semi Final at Old Trafford
What did you think of today's game?
Convincing win in the end against 3rd place Sheffield United. Good to have Wallace back who was our game changer. Deserved the win.
What do you think of the season so far?
We are doing alright and holding our own, thought we would struggle after losing a couple of players. I think we will stay up easy.