"How can we possibly have the slightest idea what to expect?"
Preston may’ve been in midtable and been on a recent run of good form, but the Lions and their supporters were certain that the visit of the Lilywhites would result in a positive result for the home fans. With a defence and fences that had been built up successfully in recent weeks, Millwall thought that they had everything in place to guarantee the points and pull further away from the relegation zone, but this old, ancient beast of English football had other ideas...
Like the dangerous Velociraptors that had smelt the blood of their prey, the visitors were straight out of the traps and within the opening two minutes came close to taking the lead. A dangerous cross came in from the left hand side of the attack in the 2nd minute and if it was not for a Murray Wallace block, the Preston North End volley would’ve sunk their jaws into the Lions and gone 1-0 up. The ball deflected off the Millwall defender and out for a corner, but this vicious attack would only get worse for the Bermondsey side.
Only a minute later in the 3rd minute, a free-kick was lofted into the Millwall penalty area and although a header from the home side saw the ball be cleared, the follow-up was volleyed in superbly by Hughes and nestled into the back of the net. The Lions were caught off-guard and before our defence could turn and say “clever girl”, Neil Harris’ side found themselves a 1-0 down.
The Preston front line of Barkhuizen and Maguire were relentless and continued to cause Millwall problems after the away side took the lead, and like a pair of Tyrannosaurus Rex who were ripping down fences and destroying cars, the Lions defence just could not cope with the pair when they were on the ball. It was in the 16th minute when the top of our jeep was smashed through again and Preston took another chunk out of the defenceless goats in navy. A Preston corner was launched into the penalty area and allowed to bounce in the six-yard box before Tom Clarke met the ball with his head and easily headed the ball past the helpless Jordan Archer. The game had barely started and Millwall’s goal mouth had been breached twice, and the first half was turning into a bad dream for the Lions.
The 24th minute saw confusion at the back from Jordan Archer, but luckily for the Millwall number one his hesitation to meet the ball was seen by Mahlon Romeo and the full-back cleared the ball from danger.
Only three minutes after the clearance from Romeo, the Lilywhites extended their lead to three goals. A through pass was played between Jake Cooper and Shaun Hutchinson and Maguire easily slotted it past the outstretched Jordan Archer and made it 3-0 in the 27th minute. The game had been wrapped up within the opening thirty minutes and the away fans roared as loud as any dinosaur knowing that the three points were as good as secured in the first half.
In the 38th minute, Potts ran with the speed of a herd of Gallimimus and easily shrugged off a soft tackle from Jed Wallace before having another bite at their fatally wounded prey, but luckily for the home side the shot was blocked and seven minutes later the whistle blew for half time.
The second half started in the same way as the first, with Preston dominating possession and had a dangerous looking free-kick fly into the Millwall penalty area in the 50th minute by Gallagher, but the ball was cleared by the Millwall defence.
Shane Ferguson was brought on at half-time by Neil Harris and brought some life into a lacklustre side. Like a wild Pteranodon, Ferguson swooped in with a good cross in the 58th minute, but Rudd in the Preston goal was equal to it and punched it away. Only seconds later, our winged beast unleashed a fine shot that fizzed along the Millwall pitch, but Ferguson’s shot could only go wide of the far post.
Sensing the danger, Preston showed their teeth again and snapped at the Millwall side in the 64th minute when Potts’had an effort that was destined for the far post, but Jordan Archer managed to get a good hand to it and palmed the ball wide.
Only three minutes later, substitute Ben Thompson managed to pull one back for the home side. As energetic as two children running around a kitchen chased by two hungry Velociraptors, a cross from the left hand side was headed down by Steve Morison into the path of Thompson in the 67th minute, and the young midfielder beautifully struck the ball home to make it 3-1.
Millwall tried to get a foothold in the game and came close a number of times when Jed Wallace had chances in the 70th and 76th minutes, but the Lions just could not match their outstanding opponents. Thompson thought he had reduced the deficit when another effort from the impressive midfielder hit the back of the net in the 81st minute, but his chance was adjudged to be offside and play brought back.
The Lions’ last effort of the game saw a deflection off of Rudd in the Preston goal land at the feet of Lee Gregory in the 84th minute, but the Millwall forward could not react quick enough and his effort went wide of the post.
The final whistle sounded and the Lancashire side howled with delight as their side had showed that they had dismantled a recently impenetrable Millwall defence and had successfully hunted their lesser prey. Preston were more dominant and superior and showed composure, excitement and quality when in possession. The Lions were defeated and this will be a match Neil Harris will be eager to make extinct from their memory prior to the midweek fixture with Hull City on Tuesday.
Millwall: Archer, Hutchinson, Cooper, Williams, J. Wallace, Gregory, Romeo, Elliott (Morison 46'), M. Wallace (Ferguson 46'), Leonard (Thompson 66'), Marshall.
Subs not used: Martin, Onyedinma, Pearce, O'Brien.
Preston North End: Rudd, Pearson, Clarke, Davies, Browne, Gallagher (Nmecha 72'), Storey, Hughes, Maguire, Barkhuizen (Johnson 76'), Potts (Ledson 90+2').
Subs not used: Crowe, Earl, Rafferty, Stockley.