"It is the set of the sails, not the direction of the wind that determines which way we shall go."
It was back in 1620 when the Mayflower headed towards the New World from Plymouth Docks. Those aboard the vessel travelled a vast distance and made history by becoming the Pilgrim Fathers who established the United States of America. On a warm, but overcast night in South Bermondsey, a new generation of Pilgrims were looking at making their own history and setting sail to the third round of the Carabao Cup.
The game started slow for both sides and although there was a number of long balls over the top from Plymouth, the first real chance of action came in the 15th minute. Argyle took advantage of some sloppy defending and like the Mayflower with a strong gail behind it, burst into the Millwall penalty area. Making their way to shore with ease, it was Ben Amos who was the Lions’ saviour as he got in a crucial block that denied a certain goal from only six yards out.
Millwall were keeping possession well but lacked any cutting edge and direction up front. It wasn’t until the 23rd minute when the Lions raised the anchor and had a chance that came close. Shane Ferguson gathered the ball on the edge of the Argyle penalty box and from his Crow’s Nest 18-yards out saw Matt Macey off of his line. Lighting the fuse, the cannonball left his left foot and took a big deflection onto the roof of the net for a Millwall corner.
Neil Harris’ side found their rhythm and in the 28th minute there was a decision that went against the Lions that could only be described as a mutiny. Tom Elliott superbly won possession on the left wing and played a lovely square ball to Shaun Williams on the penalty spot. After catching the Plymouth defender on the back foot, the Millwall defender found space but was brought down when it was easier to shoot. As the home fans and players appealed for what should have been a certain spot-kick, the referee waved his arms and to our amazement decided to signal play on. The fans were incensed as the Pilgrims took the ball away and continued to sail on the choppy water that the Lions were creating.
Five minutes before half-time and to everyone's surprise, it was Argyle that took the lead. A corner was won by the impressive Freddie Lapado in the 40th minute and the set-piece that followed saw Jamie Ness rise above a Millwall shirt and head the ball into the back of the net. The away fans in the North Stand cheered in delight and their voyage to the next round of the cup was back on course.
The Lions knew that they needed a big second half to stop the visiting Pilgrims settling into this tie. It was Murray Wallace who came close in the 50th minute after his header from a Shane Ferguson cross flew over the crossbar.
The navy blue waves were pounding away at our visitors and the lively Onyedinma continued to threaten up front. The energetic forward had a great chance deflected off target in the 57th minute, before the introduction of Jed Wallace injected a spark into the game that resulted in Plymouth's demise.
Stepping foot on board the Millwall decks, Wallace's enthusiasm rubbed off on his teammates instantly and it seemed only a matter of time until we equalised. Only two minutes after Wallace entered play, a long ball was played up to Tom Elliott in the 64th minute and this time a penalty was given after the forward was brought down. Stepping up coolly, Shaun Williams placed the ball to Macey's right and the Lions were back level.
The celebrations from the home stand had barely died down when Freddie Lapado decided to take the ship's wheel and put the travellers back on course. In the 66th minute, Lapado picked the ball up and sailed with ease past the helpless Murray Wallace. Soaring towards his destination and with his vessel roaring through the navy blue sea, the Plymouth man unleashed a low shot to Amos' right and the Millwall 'keeper could only watch as it nestled into the back of the net. 2-1 to the Pilgrims and progression to the next round for the visitors was looking likely.
Lee Gregory was introduced shortly after the goal, and like Jed Wallace he instantly made an impression. Both linked up well and a good cross came in to Tom Elliott in the 71st minute, but the target-man could only put his header wide. Another cross came in from Jed Wallace in the 77th minute and again it was Elliott who connected in the penalty area, but after rising well his header flashed past the post.
Sensing the game slipping away from them, Poseidon and Neptune in the home dugout sent one more wave on from the sub's bench with the introduction of Aiden O'Brien. Although the sub fired over the bar from distance in the 82nd minute, he would go on to play a pivotal part later in the game.
The ocean continued to crash against the Mayflower and eventually it's hull was breached. A hard and direct cross from the impressive Jiri Skalak found it's way to Lee Gregory in the 83rd minute and his header from close range brought the Lions level. It was 2-2 with 7 minutes to play and penalties were getting closer, although Aiden O'Brien would be the wave that would lead to the Pilgrims' demise.
With only one minute to go, the Millwall forward got on the end of a Shane Ferguson cross and poked the goal home for the Lions. The crowd was in hysteria and although Plymouth had 5 additional minutes to salvage their voyage, it just wasn't to be and it was the South London side who reached the shore line of the third round.
The Pilgrims had put up a brave fight and at times looked like their journey would end in success, but the waves of Championship quality was just too much for the League One side.
Millwall: Amos, McLaughlin (O'Brien 76'), Williams, Onyedinma (Gregory 67'), Ferguson, Romeo, Webster, Elliott, Karacan (J. Wallace 63'), M. Wallace, Skalak.
Subs not used: Archer, Cooper, Morison, Donovan.
Plymouth Argyle: Macey, Riley, Sawyer, Songo'o, Edwards, Ness, Sarcevic, O'Keefe (Carey 84'), Grant (Wylde 90+3'), Ladapo (Taylor 79'), Smith-Brown.
Subs not used: Letheren, Fox, Grant, Wootton.