"When marimba rhythms start to play..."
This would be the first game for a number of years that Neil Harris would not be in the home dugout in some capacity at The Den. With the club legend's sudden departure hitting the fans in South London for six, the arrival of high-flying Leeds United had the potential to be a disappointing melody of sadness and gloom, but caretaker boss Adam Barrett had not read the script and this crunch fixture with one of the elite of English football had all the rhythm and excitement of a swing band in perfect unison.
The opening minutes saw Millwall the better side and full of energy, but it was United who had the first chance of the game in the 6th minute when Dallas got on the end of a lovely one-two, but his effort went just wide of the post.
The game continued to be a high paced affair with both sets of fans in this game, but it was in the 14th minute when the Lions' early pressure really paid off for this. Tom Bradshaw superbly got behind the back line and was through on goal. The only thing that Leeds defender, Berardi could do was foul the Millwall forward to stop a certain and a like a kick in the head, the United centre back was shown a straight red. Jed Wallace stepped up to take the spot, did it his way and blasted it into the top corner of the Leeds goal in front of the travelling fans.
Although down to ten men, Leeds continued to play some fluid and fast paced football. Linking up nicely from the back-line to the left wing in only four passes saw the away side threaten in the 26th minute, but a great tackle from Mahlon Romeo saw the danger pass.
It was Millwall's chance in the 34th minute to have their own chance after some well worked link-up play, and our Rat Pack of Jed Wallace, Tom Bradshaw, Shaun Williams and Ben Thompson played the ball around nicely, but the latter's shot from just outside the penalty area flew way up to the clouds and away from danger.
It was Millwall who doubled their lead just before half-time when Shane Ferguson crossed in a lovely ball to Tom Bradshaw. The most perfectly weighted touch from the forward saw the ball dart past the helpless Casilla and into the bottom corner. This game was getting familiar to Leeds, who had not won at The Den for a number of years, and they would be forgiven for singing That's Life around the away end.
The home fans were confident that the game was in the bag, but it was only 16 seconds into the second half when Leeds equalised after a tap in from Alioski. The goal sent shock waves around The Den and Bielsa's side were back in the game.
The tempo of the game did not let up and both sides were playing some entertaining football, albeit in completely different styles. Leeds were the more elegant on the ball and linked the play well, whereas Millwall had a more dogged, determined and never-say-die attitude to them. Just like that little ol' ram who kept trying to butt a hole in dam, Jed Wallace picked up and charged through the Leeds midfield in the 56th minute, but his hard work was unfortunately cleared by the United back line before he could get a shot away.
Leeds huffed and puffed, but could just not break down a confident Millwall team who were battling to secure the three points. They again passed the ball around well and had an effort in the 68th minute from just outside the box from Klich, but his effort just went over Bialkowski's bar in the 68th minute.
A Jed Wallace free-kick in the 85th minute saw Casilla be tested and push a well hit effort away from goal, and aside from a Bodvarsson mishit in the 90th minute, this proved to be the last real chance of the game. The final whistle sounded around the ground and although there have been times when our Millwall side have been previously compared to puppets, paupers, poets and pawns, in this game, we were well and truly kings.
Millwall: Bialkowski, M. Wallace, Hutchinson, Cooper, J. Wallace, Thompson (Bodvarsson 80'), Bradshaw, Ferguson, Romeo, Molumby, Leonard (Williams 28').
Subs not used: Sandford, Smith, Pearce, Mahoney, O'Brien.
Leeds United: Casilla, Ayling, White, Bamford (Nketiah 62'), Alioski, Dallas, Costa (Douglas 46'), Harrison, Phillips (Roberts 76'), Berardi, Klich.
Subs not used: Miazek, Gotts, Davis, Clarke.