"Don't go around tonight, well it's bound to take your life. There's a bad moon on the rise."
Nuno Espirito Santo stood in the doorway to a frosty reception. His backpacking of England was proving a success so far, with his team in gold and black taking souvenirs from all over the country. But this was different. He had never experienced a place like this before. This wasn't a warm welcome. This was a small community establishment where it's misfits would run Wolves out of town with their tails between their legs. This was South London's equivalent of the Slaughtered Lamb pub, and there would be no refreshments offered, no games played and certainly no jokes. "Stick to the roads and stay off the moors," Santo was warned, "there's nothing for you here" warned Neil Harris. The Lions' silver bullets were out and Wolves were their targets.
The game started and with their full moon behind them, Wolves were howling and snarling at Millwall. Two early fouls on Jed Wallace in the 2nd minute and Tom Elliott in the 6th showed their intent. This pack of wild dogs were confident that they would leave South London's moors with three points between their teeth, and launched a vicious bite on the Millwall goal in the 12th minute, which Jordan Archer had to push around his near post.
Although these lycanthropes were circling their prey, waiting for another moment to attack and destroy, Millwall had their silver bullets prepped and ready to fire. Jed Wallace loaded the barrel of Lee Gregory's revolver and played Millwall's number 9 through after a beautiful solo run. Gregory looked down the barrel, pulled the trigger of his gun and BANG! The silver bullet found the target in the 13th minute. The supernatural hound yelped in pain, Millwall's target man had drawn blood and Santo was shocked by the hostility of the local town folk. Aiden O'Brien was next to fire at Wolves, but his effort just grazed the savage's shoulder and flew agonisingly just over the bar in the 15th minute.
Not to be outdone by Millwall's forward line, Shaun Hutchinson and Shaun Williams were getting involved with strong tackles. The Wolves in the heaths of Bermondsey were being attacked by Millwall on all fronts, but the swing of the first half would go back in their favour from the 20th minute.
The wolf pack re-grouped and tried a new game plan. Instead of an all out attack on The Lions, they devised a new strategy. Low crosses were what this group of wild dogs would now attempt, snapping at the heels of Millwall's defenders and hoping to overpower us this way. A low cross which was cleared over the bar from James Meredith in the 22nd minute and a one-on-one that was saved by Archer just two minutes after had The Lions rocked. As in the film Dog Soldiers, Millwall were defending their fortress gallantly, but the silver bullets were running low and the werewolves were breaking down the door.
Connor McLaughlin ran out the Slaughtered Lamb in a moment of madness and launched himself in desperation at one of the ravening beasts. McLaughlin was lucky to stay on the pitch and rightly received a yellow card in the 33rd minute. This attempt at defending our fortress led to angering the beast more, and the increased pressure was finally rewarded with a 45th minute equaliser from Diogo Jota. A low attack was met only a few feet out and this time when Wolves sunk their teeth in, they drew blood. Wolves howled in delight that they had managed to successfully hunt down Millwall's goal mouth and the half finished 1-1.
The second half started slowly, with our boys in blue still wounded from the wolf bite we had sustained a few minutes before. McLaughlin was the first major casualty and limped off for Mahlon Romeo in the 51st minute.
Millwall let their guard down and when we decided to take our eyes off the hounds from the Midlands, we were punished. In the 56th minute James Meredith was circled by Helder Costa and like a stray animal that had worked it's way loose from its group, Meredith was picked off and left isolated. Sensing blood and a wounded creature who wouldn't put up much of a fight, Romain Saiss joined the attack and sunk his teeth into Millwall's flesh with devastating effect. Unleashing a bite from just outside the box, the ball flew past Jordan Archer and into the top corner. Wolves were now overpowering and our ammunition was running critically low.
Tom Elliott was replaced with Steve Morison on the hour mark, and we were hoping our experienced Van Helsing would have the silver bullet needed in his arsenal. Jordan Archer again was intimidated by the sharp fangs of the lycans from Wolverhampton and fumbled a long shot in the 66th minute, and this game was looking like there would only be one victor. That was until Jake Cooper picked up the butt of his Desert Eagle. Loading up the chamber with a silver cartridge, he overpowered a number of the defensive pack at a 72nd minute corner. Leaving the rabid dogs looking down the barrel of a loaded gun, he pulled the trigger and headed the ball in the back of the net. Wolves were deflated and knew they could no longer intimidate the team from South London. The final whistle sounded and this battle had ended in a stalemate.
Wolves had tasted flesh and knew with a bit more bite they could've been victorious, but Millwall had their guns cocked and defended themselves valiantly. There may've been a Bad Moon Rising which had given Wolves supernatural ability over other sides in the Championship, but Millwall were more than a match for them on Boxing Day.
🏆 Man of the Match 🏆
An expert display and was rewarded with a good goal. Solid at the back and showing real leadership qualities.
💬 Fans after thought 💬
This week's fans after thought is Kathryn Gale, the competition winner who created last season's wonderful yellow away kit. We ask Kathryn what she thinks of today's game and season so far.
Name: Kathryn Gale
Favourite player this season: Shaun Hutchinson. Solid at the back, doesn’t miss a header and his distribution is good. Getting better too with every game.
All time favourite player: Byron Webster (just eclipsed Steve Claridge). Saw him first in pre season friendly at Dartford 2014, proper defender. Epitomises the Millwall player, big, loud and uncompromising.
Greatest Millwall moment: Off the pitch, winning the shirt design competition. On the pitch, Williams part in the Wembley goal. Often overlooked for the Gregory/Morison play but he won the ball in his own half, offloaded and then appeared again up near the corner.
What did you think of today's game?: Very even, two sides trying to play their own style. Interesting to see Wolves £13m winger not doing as well as Wallace, who they got rid of to make space for him. Ditto, Neves (£15m) not up to the mark of Saville who he replaced.
What do you think of the season so far?: Some results have been disappointing as we should have won them but for lack of precision in on goal. Hope we’ve identified a striker for January. Webster being out has been a big minus for me, think he has been missed for his experience shared with the whole defence-talks (shouts) constantly. Also miss his trundling up front for corners Generally though, we certainly haven’t looked like the newbies in the league.