"We got the streets suckers! Can you Dig it?"
Silence had fallen around South Bermondsey after a string of poor performances and unfortunate results. All eyes had been fixed on our Cyrus in the managerial hot seat and we all wondered how he would bring the Millwall fan base and players back together under the banner of unity. "Can you count, suckers?" screamed the rival gangs regarding Millwall's lack of points and current league position and although we had sent our delegates from our South London street army into the middle of our little piece of turf to represent us, not many thought we would make it back to Coney Island with the three points...
The game started as slow as the train ride to the meeting in Van Cortlandt Park and the truce between the two of not attacking seemed to be in place. It wasn't until the 13th minute until our Warriors had the first real chance of the game. A long throw came into the box from Ryan Leonard and the Millwall war chief Jake Cooper rose highest to loop the header towards target, but unfortunately for the Lions, Walton in the Wigan goal easily gathered.
Sensing that our boys would arrive in the Bronx and take over, Josh Windass laced up his roller skates and skated around the Millwall back line in the 15th minute. Picking up a long ball that beat the Lions defence, Windass unleashed an effort from a tight angle which had Ben Amos beat, although luckily the ball just went wide of the far post.
With our veteran Warlord off the field and on the substitute bench, it was down to Lee Gregory to lead the line alongside Tom Elliott and our number nine played a superb ball out wide to Jed Wallace in the 16th minute. Wallace broke down the wing and played a ball into the Wigan penalty area, but his pass was just too long and flashed past the approaching Shane Ferguson.
Our gang was starting to show it's promise and why last season they wrote about our raids in the paper. In the 25th minute, Shaun Williams came close to opening the scoring when a ball was squared to him outside the penalty area. The stand-in Millwall captain connected well, but his effort just went wide of the post and the score line remained all square.
Only two minutes later in the 27th minute, a moment of confusion and a lack of assertiveness resulted in the Lions failing to grasp the opportunity to take the lead. Just as how the Saracens sitting next to the Jones Street Boys and how nobody was wasting nobody was a miracle in the 1979 classic, just how Jed Wallace and Lee Gregory failed to find the back of the net after continuous one-twos between each other in the Wigan half was equally as surprising.
The pressure continued to be shared between the two teams when Shane Ferguson's long range effort in the 31st minute nearly caught the visitors off-guard and a glancing header from a Wigan corner in the 41st went agonisingly close for the away side, but it was on the stroke of half time when an effort hit Millwall harder than the Baseball Furies swinging their bats into our ribs. The visitors had rarely threatened with any purpose, but when their late free-kick deflected off the defenceless Jed Wallace from outside the box in first half injury-time, Ben Amos could only watch helplessly as the ball nestled into his bottom corner. The visitors were 1-0 up as the whistle went and we felt like we had a bat shoved somewhere and turned us into popsicles.
Putting his red lips close to the microphone, Mr Bye-for-Now put some messages out over the sound waves to inspire our fans to get behind the team: "Here's an update, Millwall missed their chance, so there's still time for a big hit. More news later..." With those words ringing in his ears, substitute Aiden O'Brien entered the fray at half-time and this tactical change from our Cyrus changed the game.
Although a big defensive error from Murray Wallace nearly increased the away team's lead in the 50th minute, it was when Wigan were awarded a controversial penalty in the 60th minute that we thought that we would be left as helpless as a person handcuffed to a park bench. "Do you see what you get, Millwall? Do you see what you get when you mess with Wigan?!" screamed Josh Windass as he sprinted towards the ball on the penalty spot, but unfortunately for the striker he did not appreciate what he had confronted and blazed the ball over the crossbar.
Sensing they could get back into the game, the Lions darted towards the visitor's penalty area and were awarded their own penalty only a minute later when Aiden O'Brien was fouled in the box. Lighting the rag to his Molotov cocktail and launching it towards the helpless Orphans, Shaun Williams' penalty beat Walton and the home fans exploded with delight. The score line was level and we were on our way towards the luminous Wonder Wheel back home with a point.
Sensing the game could be won, our Warriors re-grouped and after an effort in the 63rd minute which saw Jed Wallace's cross just miss Lee Gregory and Shane Ferguson, as well as a free-kick from the midfielder that came close in the 72nd minute, it was Steve Morison who entered the field to secure the win for the Lions. After some gorgeous football involving Lee Gregory, Aiden O'Brien and the impressive Shane Ferguson, a ball was squared to the veteran striker. Standing alone in the penalty area and with clinking bottles ringing in his ears, Morison had certainly come out to play and slammed the ball home to make it 2-1 to the Lions. A late and desperate flurry from Wigan wasn't enough and the game ended with the Lions victorious. Our boys had stood up to a bigger gang who many thought would stop us going all the way back to Coney.
"You Millwall are good. Real good." Our visitors said on the shoreline of South Bermondsey.
"The best." Neil Harris replied.
Millwall: Amos, Meredith (O'Brien 46'), Cooper, Williams, J. Wallace (Hutchinson 86'), Gregory, Ferguson, Romeo, Elliott (Morison 66'), M. Wallace, Leonard
Subs not used: Archer, Bradshaw, Tunnicliffe, Skalak
Wigan Athletic: Walton, Morsy, Vaughan (Powell 68'), Windass (McManaman 84'), James (Byrne 73'), Naismith, Kipre, Dunkley, Connolly, Burn, Evans
Subs not used: Jones, Bruce, Roberts, Garner.