"I am the great and powerful... Wizard of Oz."
The twister landed in the family home. Everyone bravely took shelter from the battering storm, but Millwall were stuck in the house with howling winds. Trying to evade any damage and harm, the Lions were desperately searching for somewhere to be safe, but the attacking gales caused a window to come in and hit Neil Harris’ men. As we lost consciousness, we opened our eyes and were somewhere different. Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore….
After landing our house and being greeted by the Mayor of Munchkin land, the singing and praise towards Neil Harris’ side was everywhere to be seen. “From now on you’ll be history…” sang the local residents in celebration of how well the Lions had played this season. The Wicked Witch of the West arrived from the Midlands to try and stop Millwall, but the Lions started the game brighter with James Meredith and Aiden O’Brien linking up brilliantly on the left wing in the 4th minute.
Feeding off the singing residents, Fred Onyedinma twisted and pivoted around the yellow brick road towards the Emerald City, as he turned superbly in the 7th minute and found Jed Wallace on the penalty spot. The Millwall winger’s shot was hit first time, but his effort just went wide of the Villa target.
Millwall were skipping down the pathway and towards the Wizard confidently, and Aiden O’Brien came close to opening the scoring for the Lions. Like the apple trees who dangerously threw their apples at Dorothy and the Scarecrow, O’Brien’s cross/shot nearly hit the back of the net and would’ve sent the fans into jubilation, but his effort was pushed over the crossbar by Mark Bunn in the 15th minute.
Sensing that Millwall would be successful in their journey towards the Emerald City and the three points, the Wicked Witch of the West decided to launch an attack herself. Flying in on their broomsticks into the Millwall penalty area, Villa launched a double fireball at the Lions’ goal in the 17th minute. A low effort was brilliantly blocked at the last moment by Shaun Hutchinson, and the rebound was just cleared off the goal line seconds later by James Meredith. Our Scarecrow and Tinman had saved Dorothy’s blushes, but Villa would get our little pretties, and our little dog too.
The game then turned into the cliché with a final game of the season mentality. Neither side committing too much on the pitch, but in the 29th minute the game turned in Millwall’s favour. After the poppy field sent our team to sleep prior to the incident, Ryan Tunnicliffe awoke from his slumber and stormed towards the palace before being brought down in the penalty area. In the absence of Lee Gregory, Shaun Williams stood up and bravely knocked on the door of the Emerald City, the door flew open and the ball sailed into the back of the net. The Millwall fans were ecstatic and even the horse of many colours was galloping with delight.
The rest of the half was in Millwall’s favour, and although Aston Villa were playing the ball nicely around the Lions, they weren’t doing anything with it and we went in at half-time 1-0 up. Dorothy seemed to be in the driving seat, but the Wicked Witch was getting her winged primates ready….
We were told by the Wizard to go and retrieve the broomstick of the Wicked Witch, so we started the second half on the attack. A header from a Millwall corner just flashed over the bar in the 49th minute, and the home fans thought that the broomstick was in our possession when Fred ran towards goal. Entering the Aston Villa penalty area, Onyedinma managed to get into the Witch’s castle before the draw bridge raised, but his shot in the 53rd minute flew wildly over the Aston Villa crossbar.
For the next several minutes, Dorothy had been captured and the hour glass showing how much time we had left was turned over, and the Lions were in peril. The Witch was cackling with delight as an Onomah shot came dangerously close in the 54th minute, and this was followed by another long-range effort by Conor Hourihane in the 62nd minute. Sensing the danger, Jordan Archer grabbed his axe and broke down the door that was holding Dorothy captive. Pulling off a superb save in the 69th minute, the Millwall goalkeeper excellently pushed a long-range effort wide of the post and out for a corner when it looked destined to go in the back of the South London team’s net. Another volley from distance flew toward Archer in the 78th minute, but again the ‘keeper was unfazed and held it brilliantly.
Millwall had the chance to take the broomstick in the 84th minute and return to the Wizard when they were awarded another late penalty. Substitute Lee Gregory stepped up, but his penalty was saved and the two follow ups from Shaun Williams and Steve Morison somehow stayed out of the Villa net. The fans couldn’t believe it, but the Lions held on for the three points. Dorothy grabbed the bucket of water after being under some late, late pressure from the Witch and threw it in her face. As the final whistle sounded, Steve Bruce’s men melted into obscurity and our Lions were brave with plenty of courage, brains and a big heart in them.
We returned to Oz and clicked our heels together. This season has been magnificent and something of a fairy tale. There have been some wonderful moments on our travels and this was another game where the Lions showed the passion they have for our team.
When you’ve had the season we’ve had, and with the support from those in the Dockers, Barry Kitchener and Cold Blow Lane Stands, there really is no place like home.
🏆 Man of the Match 🏆
A great game from the Millwall goalkeeper today. The young Scotland International has been under increased pressure and scrutiny in recent weeks, but he was excellent today and kept Millwall in the game at times.