“Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.”
Before today's game, Millwall found themselves only a handful of points above the relegation zone and looking over their shoulder as the trapdoor to League One was still very close to them. The arrival of Brentford, who were already mathematically safe, should have meant that the Lions would put on a show that would inspire those in the stands to stand up and applaud for an encore, but unfortunately this was a lot less of a Broadway hit and a lot more Les Miserables...
The home crowd were excited for this Friday afternoon matinee, and although the show started in an exciting manner, the script was difficult to follow and understand and there was very little goalmouth action in the opening fifteen minutes. That all changed when lead actor Lee Gregory stepped up to take centre stage. In the 15th minute, a corner came in from the home side that was flicked on to the striker by Alex Pearce and Gregory showed that he is still the star when he poked home his 12th goal of the season. The home fans joined in with the familiar number that came from Mr. Bye-for-Now and the supporters were singing along to the tune of Championship survival.
The good feeling didn't last long though and in the 20th minute Josh Dasilva stole the show. Cutting inside after a Millwall defelction, Dasilva stunned the home fans in the stalls and those in the dress circle in The Den when he unleashed a long-range curling effort past David Martin and into the back of the net. This Sunny Afternoon was quickly turning into the Play That Went Wrong and Millwall were on the back foot.
Although the scoreline was equal, the game swung back in Millwall's favour in the 35th minute when Jed Wallace's perfectly weighted ball was played over the Brentford back line to Ben Thompson. The young understudy who had spent time in smaller performances in League One learning his trade raced towards goal and was about to be through, but a foul from stage villain Henrik Dalsgaard stopped the midfielder in his tracks. The crowd booed as the Brentford captain channeled his inner Bill Sykes and then roared with delight as he was shown a red card and left the stage.
Millwall continued to be camped in the visitor's half, but was unable to really threaten and in first-half injury time it was the Bees who nearly took the lead. A near exact copy of the earlier star performance saw Sergi Canos cut in from the right hand side and curl a long range effort past a beaten David Martin, but luckily the crossbar came to the Lions' rescue and at the interval the game was tied at 1-1.
After the fans had their interval snacks and refreshments, it was Millwall who had the first chance of the second half when Mahlon Romeo found the ball at his feet in the 49th minute, but his first time shot after a through ball from Lee Gregory could only go wide of the near post.
Inspired by his impressive first half, Canos took to centre stage and had another chance in the 55th minute, but his tame effort was a forgettable song in this relegation number and his long range shot was palmed wide by David Martin.
With only ten minutes to go, Millwall came close to taking the three points when his deflected cross went goal bound, but as in the first half with Canos' effort, his shot could only hit the crossbar and bounce away from danger.
The last effort of the game fell to the away side and Chiedozie Ogbene had the chance to put in a performance worthy of an Olivier award when the ball landed to him in the penalty area in the 86th minute, but he hit a bum-note and the ball flew over the bar and into the travelling fans.
The final whistle sounded and the curtain came down on a disappointing game for Millwall. The critics will say that this was a show that Neil Harris' side should have taken advantage of, but theatre goers who had seen similar shows before knew we were lucky to get away with a point.
Millwall: Martin, Meredith (Marshall 46'), Cooper, J. Wallace, Thompson (Elliott 40'), Gregory, Ferguson, Romeo, Pearce, Tunnicliffe, Leonard.
Subs not used: Amos, McLaughlin, Williams, Morison, O'Brien.
Brentford: Daniels, Odubajo, Canos (Racic 61'), Maupay, Watkins (Ogbene 83'), Mokotjo, Da Silva, Marcondes (Sawyers 77'), Nalsgaard, Konsa, Sorensen.
Subs not used: Balcombe, Field, Forss, Oksanen.