"Don't mess with the bull, young man. you will get the horns."
Aside from a slight blemish away at Reading early in his tenure, the Gary Rowett era at Millwall has got off to the perfect start. A midweek league game against a struggling opposition under the floodlights would have been the best way to carry on the feel good atmosphere that has been swirling around The Den, but unfortunately for the Lions, this dream start for the new gaffer turned into an evening of mediocre disappointment.
The visitors had not won away from home since mid-October and went into this game in South Bermondsey without a win in their five games prior, but it was the Latics who took the lead when a loose ball on the edge of the Millwall area was not dealt with and Anthony Pilkington blazed an effort past the helpless Bialkowski in only the 3rd minute of the game.
Rocked and stunned from the early strike, Wigan nearly doubled their lead only five minutes later when Pilkington again found space in the penalty area. Pivoting well like a matador in control of his bull in the 8th minute, the former Norwich man turned the Millwall defence easily and unleashed an effort which went just wide of Bialkowksi's post.
Our rabid beast in navy were struggling to get into the game and were being stifled by an opposition who had the game plan of frustrating and draining the life from their opponent. The crowd in the stadium were trying to get their side back into the game, but Wigan's red kit was the metaphoric cape of the bull fighter and was getting the home side more frustrated.
It was in the 24th minute when Millwall equalised. A pin point accurate corner from Jed Wallace was floated into the box and for the second home game in succession Shaun Hutchinson rose highest and headed the ball into the back of the net.
The tempo of the first half remained at a frustrating level and it took until the 38th minute for the next real chance to occur. A soft corner given away by Hutchinson was delivered into the Millwall box and if it hadn't been for the heroics of Bialkowski in the Millwall goal, then Kieffer Moore's header would've nestled into the back of the net and put the visitors back in front.
The second 45 minutes began in the same way as the first and it was the Latics again who took the lead early into the half. Antonee Robinson got the better of Mahlon Romeo on the left hand side and his effort from a tight angle in the 56th minute beat Bialkowski and put the visitors 2-1 up.
It wasn't long until our angry snarling bull made the game all square again when another cross was superbly put into the penalty area from Shaun Williams on the hour mark. Substitute Matt Smith expertly read the flight of the ball and connected in the air to beat Marshall in the Wigan goal and bring the game back level.
This proved to be the last goal and clear cut chance of the game, as aside from a handful of half chances and shots from distance, both sides could not capitalise on their earlier strikes and cancelled each other out. Wigan were playing the role of the antagonistic bull fighter to perfection and came here with a game plan to not be gored by the angry bull in South London, and Millwall were showing signs of fatigue from an earlier fight in Wales last weekend. A point at home extends the unbeaten run before we travel to St. Andrew's this weekend to face Birmingham City.
Millwall: Bialkowski, M. Wallace, Hutchinson, Cooper, Williams, J. Wallace, Thompson (Skalak 79'), Bradshaw (O'Brien 86'), Romeo, Molumby, Mahoney (Smith 46').
Subs not used: Steele, Pearce, Brown, Bodvarsson.
Wigan Athletic: Marshall, Robinson, Macleod, Morsy, Pilkington (Kipre 67'), Lowe, Garner (Windass 86'), Sterling, Mulgrew, Moore (Massey 76'), Dunkley.
Subs not used: Jones, Jacobs, Naismith, Gelhardt.