"Vi Veri Veniversum Vivus Vici - By the power of truth, I, while living, have conquered the universe."
Set in a dystopian England in the not too distant future, V for Vendetta tells the story of a freedom fighter who stands up to a powerful establishment that rules the country with an iron fist. Standing against an organisation in an untouchable position of power, V takes it upon himself to rebel against the supremacists who reign over all. On a warm afternoon in South Bermondsey, our eleven revolutionaries took it upon themselves to oppose the new leaders of the Championship, Leeds United.
The game started at a high tempo, but with very little action in the opening quarter of an hour. It wasn’t until the 13th minute when Aiden O’Brien was seemingly fouled on the edge of the Leeds penalty area. United broke with the ball and had the Millwall back-line cornered on the edge of the Lions box like the sinister Finger-men who had trapped the helpless Evey Hammond. Just when it seemed like the Leeds attack would look deadly, Connor McLaughlin managed to get in an important tackle and our V at full-back released Aiden O’Brien who sprinted towards the Yorkshire side’s goal. Dodging tackles that were flying at him, a cross came in which was put behind for a Millwall corner. The corner that flew in was a good one and the home debutant Ryan Leonard met it with his head, but his header to Morison lacked any real danger and was gathered by the Leeds ‘keeper.
Our masked men continued to put pressure on the evil establishment and in the 17th minute another effort from the Lions came close. Another corner flew in which was met by Steve Morison, but the Millwall skipper’s header back across was just too high for Aiden O’Brien who was just a few feet away from goal. The Lions were the better side and their mission to bring down the league leaders looked like it would have a positive result.
Millwall’s eleven Guy Fawkes spent the majority of the first half camped in the Leeds half, but had very little bite which really threatened the side at the top of the table. In the 28th minute another cross came in to the penalty area from Jed Wallace, but unfortunately for the Lions the pass was just behind the advancing Aiden O’Brien who darted into the box unmarked.
The South London side continued to press and in the 31st minute arguably should have been awarded a penalty when Ryan Leonard appeared to be brought down in the box, but seemingly under the influence of the totalitarian visitors, the referee waved play on after the ball appeared to hit the hand of a Leeds defender and also waved play on when Leeds United appealed for their own penalty only a minute later. The uprising was building in the home stands and the support for our V’s on the field was building…
Fearing their tyrannous rule over the league slipping, the Yorkshire side had a rare attack of their own and came close in the 34th minute. The Whites broke away and looked destined to take the lead, but a good block from Murray Wallace when Ben Amos was beat showed the fight that was instilled in this Millwall side.
The Lions had an easy effort that came close in the 39th minute, however it was Bailey Peacock-Farrell in the Leeds goal who gave the Millwall side hope. Seemingly catching a high ball easily, the Leeds goalkeeper landed awkwardly and staggered backwards towards his goal line. Although the visiting ‘keeper’s body crossed his own line, the referee indicated he had not received a signal that indicated a Millwall goal and play continued.
The final real chance of the half fell to Leeds United towards the end of injury time. A late attack was deflected off of Millwall’s Ben Amos and then cleared away by Murray Wallace.
Half time sounded and the Lions had shown they were not to be overpowered by the team many believed would arrive in Bermondsey and crash them. We had stood up to our futuristic Old Bailey and with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture blaring in the back of our minds, we knew if we kept attacking and not be intimidated by the dictator in the away dugout that our freedom fighters could be victorious.
Leeds knew they had to do something to crush our uprising and in the 50th minute came close. The impressive Saiz broke down the left wing and put in a dangerous ball that caught the Lions off-guard, but luckily for Millwall Jake Cooper was on the far post and put the ball wide for a corner.
Now getting more of a foot hold in the game and re-establishing their control over a recently downtrodden London club, United next attack involved a routine straight out of the training ground. A long-range one-two in the 52nd minute between Liam Cooper and Barry Douglas resulted in the former unloading a shot at the near post, but the effort was held easily by Ben Amos.
It was the 55th minute when the deadlock was broken, and our V’s finally found the back of the net. A long throw came in from Ryan Leonard and Jake Cooper was the first to win the knock-down. The ball fell perfectly for Jed Wallace and like the masked vigilante in the graphic novel, Wallace drew his weapon and plunged it into the target. The ball nestled into the bottom corner and the Lions were 1-0 up.
The establishment was rocked and were destined for another league defeat in South London, although in the 62nd minute they launched another attack that threatened Neil Harris’ side. A dangerous cross from the left found its way to Millwall’s far post and United looked destined to score. However, inspired by the crowd support and wanting to show the league leaders they wouldn’t be intimidated, Ben Amos and Jake Cooper through themselves in the path of the attack to stop a certain goal. The ball was deflected for a corner and the Lions had survived another attack.
The attacks from the Yorkshire side continued and the Whites should have been level four minutes later in the 66th minute. The young Roberts had managed to beat the Millwall offside trap and was stood alone on the penalty spot. Luckily for Millwall, the communication between Roberts and his team-mates seemed to have disappeared, as he headed the ball easily into the arms of Ben Amos rather than taking the time to bring the ball down.
The game looked like it would end in another Millwall victory and although our caped resistance fighters should have put the game to bed with the scramble in the penalty box in the 83rd minute, neither Aiden O’Brien nor Murray Wallace could unleash the killer blow and Leeds cleared the danger.
Shaun Williams had a long-range shot in the 85th minute which went wide of the target, but in the 89th minute Leeds bullets finally hit the Lions and broke Millwall hearts. We had stood toe-to-toe with the seemingly invincible Leeds United who had destroyed all others before, but even our bulletproof vests couldn't stop this final attack. Unleashing a rocket from outside the penalty area, Jack Harrison’s effort was just outside the reach of Ben Amos and the away fans roared as it found the bottom corner.
The home fans were stunned and despite the late flurry of attacks which saw Tom Elliott hit the woodwork and penalty appeals turned away in injury time, the game ended 1-1. The Lions were out on their feet as the Leeds fans and players cheered with delight. They had ensured that the V’s from South London hadn’t defeated them, but this was a lot closer than the league leaders would’ve wanted. A brave display from Millwall that the fans and Neil Harris will be proud of, but this late blow felt like a defeat to many in the home stands.
Millwall: Amos, McLaughlin, Meredith, J. Cooper, Williams, J. Wallace, Gregory (Elliott 86'), Morison (Bradshaw 70'), O'Brien, M. Wallace, Leonard.
Subs not used: Martin, Romeo, Webster, Tunnicliffe, Skalak.
Leeds United: Peacock-Farrell, Ayling, Douglas, L. Cooper, Alioski, Roberts (Dallas 68'), Saiz, Jansson, Harrison, Phillips (Forshaw 74'), Klich (Baker 61').
Subs not used: Blackman, Pearce, Edmondson, Clarke.