I smell the blood of an Englishman..."
A huge wooden giant stands over the halfway line at Princes Park. It has defeated many who have tried to visit its home and take victory, taking great pleasure in grinding bones to make his bread. But unfortunately for this gargantuan creature, Millwall had their own Jack in the form of Jed Wallace who would climb this pre-season beanstalk and take the giant’s riches.
On a hot day in Kent, it was Aiden O’Brien who took the magic beans early and found the perfect place to plant them in the opening two minutes. Running down the left wing, the Millwall winger was fouled just outside the Dartford box. As the beanstalk started sprouting, Jed Wallace stepped up and adjusted his footing. As soon as the ball left his boot, there would only be one conclusion and the ball flew into the back of the home net. The visiting fans cheered as our Jack had gone into the giant’s den and left his mark. The giant was rocked and could sense an Englishman had been in his home, but he could not foresee the damage the Reading-born midfielder would cause.
Jed made his way back down the beanstalk, but after realising there were more rewards the more times he visited, he decided to climb back up and see what he could retrieve for his family. Linking up well with the impressive Harry Donovan in the 6th minute, Jed played in a lovely cross which was just too long and could’ve resulted in another Millwall goal if a navy shirt had got on the end of it.
Seemingly inspired by last season’s Player of the Year runner-up, Steve Morison saw an opportunity to climb the large plant in the 15th minute, but his long-range effort flew high and wide of the Dartford goal mouth. The giant stirred in the 22nd minute, when a long throw flew into the Millwall penalty area was awkwardly headed behind by Lions trialist, Lazar Stojsavljevic. The resulting corner made the giant bellow and had Millwall’s defence shook, but luckily for the South London side Jordan Archer cleared up the goal-line scramble.
Fred Onyedinma then decided he wanted to make his way to the top of the beanstalk and see how successful he could be. A lovely weighted pass was played through to the Millwall youngster in the 28th minute and he looked destined to make it 2-0. However, as Fred made his way to the edge of the Dartford box and was about to unload, a last ditch but perfectly timed tackle stopped the Millwall man in his tracks. It was only a couple of minutes later that Jed would step up again and show his team mates how it was done.
In the 31st minute, Fred gathered the ball and run towards the Dartford goal. Sensing that this intrusion of the giant’s home would bare fruit, Wallace continued his climb into the penalty area and was in the right spot to receive Onyedinma’s low pass. Reaching for the bag of gold, the giant tried to stop Jed taking his treasure by making Deren Ibrahim save his close-range effort, but he was helpless as Jed collected the rebound and found the back of the net to make it 2-0. The Lions were in control of the game, but they would not stop there.
Not to be outdone by Wallace, Aiden O’Brien got in on the action also and raced up the beanstalk in the 33rd minute. Seeing the goose that laid the golden egg, he took his chance and sensing the giant was rocked from Wallace’s goal only a couple of minutes before, O’Brien met a lovely free-kick from Shaun Williams and headed the ball into the Dartford goal to make it 3-0.
Our Jacks knew that the giant was defeated but wanted to receive more treasure. In the 35th minute Mahlon Romeo put his feet on the branches and started his own ascent. Cutting inside and catching his nemesis off-guard, the Millwall full-back unleashed a left foot effort that superbly curled around the helpless goalkeeper. The magical harp was under his arm and another prize had been taken from the Darts to make it 4-0 to Millwall.
Knowing that this couldn’t go on forever, the giant sent his minions to desperately try and stop the Lions. Unfortunately for Dartford, Millwall could foresee this tactic and grabbed an axe to begin chopping at the beanstalk. After being awarded a penalty just before half-time, Wallace put the ball on the spot and knew just one more chop would see him rewarded with a hat-trick. Stepping up and aiming towards the bottom corner, the ball was aiming for the back of the net, but Ibrahim stretched and managed to keep it out. As the rebound landed at Wallace, he chopped again, but somehow Ibrahim kept this out too. Sensing that a decisive blow was needed from the club captain, Steve Morison asked Wallace to step aside and took the axe. Swinging the axe towards the beanstalk, Ibrahim was finally beaten as Morison calmly slotted the ball past the stranded goalkeeper and the giant knew he was defeated. Millwall went in at half-time 5-0 up and the game was all but over.
Millwall made eleven changes for the second half and although there would be no further goals, the Lions would be just too good for the giant’s Darts. New signing Murray Wallace and returning Byron Webster were dominant at the back and ensured the giant’s men would not get their revenge on Jack. A rare Dartford attack in the 57th minute was broken down by the Millwall back line and easily cleared by the former Scunthorpe man.
Tom Elliott up front tried to replicate the success of the first half and would try to climb the beanstalk in the 60th minute and although the goalkeeper was beat, the far post was too and the Millwall fans could only watch as this agonisingly went wide. Replacement Millwall goalkeeper David Martin had a quiet half and let a desperate Dartford cross go out for a goal kick in the 73rd minute. But the Darts and the giant knew they were defeated.
As the final whistle sounded, the beanstalk fell and the giant was defeated. Millwall had been dominant from the first minute and the gulf in quality was evident. Dartford were by no means a poor team, but the Kent side and the giant could not compete with the Championship side. He may have been able to smell the blood of an Englishman, but like the Three Lions against Sweden a few hours after this Princes Park fixture, there was only going to be one winner.
Dartford First-Half XI: Ibrahim, Driver, Fulton, Noble, Roast, Vint, Igahore, Cue, Wall, Pugh, Murphy.
Dartford Second-Half XI: Funnell, Driver (Saad 67'), Onyemah, Carter, Bonner, Sho-Silva, Greenhalgh, Mensah, Sam-Yorke.
Dartford Substitutes: Fisher, Gillies.
Millwall First-Half XI: Archer, Romeo, Trialist, Cooper, McLaughlin, J. Wallace, Donovan, Williams, O'Brien, Onyedinma, Morison.
Millwall Second-Half XI: Martin, Brown, Webster, M. Wallace, McNamara, Ferguson, Thompson, Tunnicliffe, Saunders-Henry (Olaofe 82'), Gregory, Elliott.
Millwall Substitutes: Sandford, Hanson, Wicks.