"Come with me and you'll be, in a world of pure imagination."
The TV flickers and their eyes widen longingly. Looking at the images that are projecting from a small box in the corner of their room, the Millwall family are laying under their shared bed sheet wishing and praying that they could open the candy bars and win their prize. They are witnessing others around the world ripping open the paper wrapping, before eagerly pulling out the ticket and showing everyone what they now have in their possession. Between their fingers, a small rectangular golden ticket allowing entry to a place of wonder and joy. The golden ticket which signifies Championship survival is blowing in the wind, and although Millwall are dreaming of it, the household sharing the small double bed know that if they get one then all their dreams will come true.
Sheffield Wednesday arrived in South Bermondsey on a cold Tuesday night in their white kits with yellow trim, and for the opening minutes Millwall could not get the ball off them. Six minutes in and the Owls were just playing the ball around the Lions, showing that they would be the ones who would have more chance of getting the golden three points. Slightly against the run of play and to the surprise of the Millwall family, Ben Marshall ran into the front room with a candy bar in his hand.
“Open it Ben, it may have the ticket!” we asked with baited anticipation, and after some nice link up play from the Millwall front line, he slowly broke the seal of the candy bar and peered in. In the 7th minute Marshall looked inside, but his shot was deflected and went out for a corner. No golden ticket this time and the family thought we had come close after the effort shaved the woodwork, but alas, we returned to our sleeping quarters. We were happy we had our candy bar, but what we really wanted was the goal.
For the next several minutes we continued to watch our team play nicely, but not really be successful with the rare voucher that permitted entry to the Chocolate Factory of Championship survival. We huffed and puffed, and although Steve Morison felt he was fouled on the far post in the 28th minute, more candy bars were being opened only to have just paper inside, and not the gold-leaf wrapping we were craving.
Our pyjama wearing family were given another opportunity to win access to Willy Wonka’s workshop of wonder when Lee Gregory picked up the ball in the 32nd minute. Timing his run perfectly, Gregory beat the offside trap and was through on goal. The defenders were closing him down, but the Millwall number 9 only had the Chocolate Factory in his mind. Pulling back the glued wrapper again, Gregory was too eager, and his shot flew over the bar when it was easier to score.
Sheffield Wednesday at this point, knowing that the Lions were the slightly better side, now decided to go to local tuck shops and buy some candy bars of their own.
Checking the wrappers in the 33rd and 37th minutes with low crosses, the Owls also didn’t get the three points to Championship survival. However, six minutes later the side formerly known as the Wednesday Cricket Club were successful. In the 43rd minute, a long clearance from the Lions was hit back wide to Pelupessy who took apart the foil packaging and superbly curled the ball round Jordan Archer. The golden ticket shone and glistened under the floodlights, and we went in at half time with our chances of victory taking a huge dent.
Our Millwall family were dejected, angry and disappointed that we would be stuck in the small bedsit for the rest of the game, watching those less deserving than us take the rewards due to the fact they had more money to buy treats with. George Saville was one who’s temper flared, and both he and the Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper were involved in an altercation in the 48th minute. Neil Harris intervened and made sure that our Charlie in the midfield was behaving.
When all seemed lost, Lee Gregory managed to find some spare change in the 52nd minute and made his way into the sweet shop. The bell rang as he walked in, and a long ball flew over. He was handed a piece of confectionary from Jake Cooper and rising through the air, the Millwall centre forward connected with his head and found the back of the net. Taking a bite from the chocolate squares, Gregory looked down and saw a sparkly coupon in his hand. Grabbing his coat, he got the rest of the Millwall family out of bed and straight to the home of the magical candy bar creator.
It wasn’t long before the enchanted doors to Championship certainty flew open and in the 63rd minute our players saw the wonders before them. Everlasting gobstoppers, three-course meal chewing gum, squirrels deciding who and what are bad nuts and chocolate rivers. These were the items what were on offer to our Millwall family after Steve Morison picked up the ball from a Jed Wallace cross, and calmly stroked the ball into the back of the net to make it 2-1.
Our family were in elation, but after a long lay-off due to an injury to the Owl’s full-back Jordan Thorniley, Adam Reach ran into the box screaming that a piece of chocolate he had bought offered the same prize the Millwall players were enjoying. After seemingly being brought down in the penalty area in the 75th minute, Reach waved his ticket around asking for a penalty. But the man in the centre circle knew the ticket was a fake and rightly booked the Sheffield Wednesday man.
Wednesday continued to try and make their way into the factory, with some possession-based play and a late header from Joao that just snuck wide in the 90th minute, but not even 13 added minutes at the end could help the Owls break in. The final whistle sounded and Millwall had done it, the hard work and resolute defending had paid off and we were now reaping the rewards of treats for the rest of the season.
Our Willy Wonka in the dugout had led us into his factory and now toward a glazed doorway. The doors closed behind us and we rocketed up the league in our Great Glass Elevator. We had joined Mr Wonka in his world of pure imagination and towards the sweet tasting 50 points which is Neil Harris’ target.
🏆 Man of the Match 🏆
Fantastic game from the Millwall defender who had a busy evening. Maturing and improving with every game, Romeo is proving to be a key player for the Lions and a top Championship full-back.