- Six changes for Palace from 0-0 with Coventry City
- TQ Addy draws fantastic save from Millwall ‘keeper after excellent Palace move
- Aiden O’Brien heads the Lions in to the lead. 1-0
- HT: 1-0
- John-Kymani Gordon goes close on several occasions
- Jiri Skalak hits the post
- FT: 1-0
The opening 10 minutes can only be described as full-bloodied, epitomised in particular by the tenacity in the tackles of Noah Watson, with Palace’s full-back stifling Millwall’s wing-play down the right.
Even though Millwall were dominating possession, it was Palace who were looking the more threatening. On 10 minutes the Eagles put together a wonderful team move that included a backheel from Gio McGregor, trademark twists and turns from Brandon Aveiro, before Nya Kirby clipped a cross into the box.
Rob Street rose highest, and rose well, to flick the ball onto TQ Addy, who found himself unmarked at the back post. With time on his side, the forward allowed the ball to drop, composed himself, and then rifled a well-hit effort goal-bound – the impressive strike and build-up play was met with an equally impressive save from the Millwall goalkeeper, Ryan Sandford.
Millwall continued to control the ball in unthreatening areas and this was demonstrated in the fact that when the home side did eventually register their first shot – courtesy of Skalak – the forward’s attempted curled effort lacked the finesse required and Jacob Russell jogged across his line, barely registering interest in the strike.
Millwall came closer four minutes later, Skalak again the protagonist, this time going low and to the opposite side of his earlier effort and hitting the target. Russell got down quickly to hold the ball well.
With Palace testing the second-place Lions, it was an unfair blow that was dealt to them on 43 minutes with Dan Moss finally getting some joy down Watson’s side and delivering the perfect cross for the imposing figure of O’Brien to meet and head past Russell.
Shaun Derry’s side almost drew level on the stroke of half-time, when a floated McGregor free-kick was brought down smartly by Jay Rich-Baghuelou at the back post. The centre-back found Aveiro in the middle of the box, but with the midfielder’s path to goal blocked, he showed excellent awareness to find Addy, again unmarked in the same position from his earlier effort. However, unfortunately for the Eagles, Addy failed to connect as sweetly and sent the effort over the bar.
The first 20 minutes of the second-half lacked the tenacity and spark of the opening 45 from both sides. However, when John-Kymani Gordon was introduced on 65 minutes, Palace began to threaten again, and in turn, Millwall pushed for the game-killing second goal.
Gordon almost made an immediate impact with the forward slightly having to stretch to connect with a deep McGregor cross, with opportunity arising in the first place after some excellent work from Dylan Thiselton and David Boateng down in Millwall’s left-back position.
Millwall responded with two excellent opportunities: firstly, Billy Mitchell headed just over from a Skalak corner. And then two minutes later Skalak almost completed an excellent solo goal but toe-poked onto the post.
In between those two Lions chances, Gordon again was proving the Eagles’ best outlet, with the forward again going close after Aveiro’s neat Cruyff turn had set TQ Addy away down the left-hand side to cross for Gordon.
Palace’s last real chance of the game involved Gordon again, with the forward bursting clean through and just as the red and blue of Palace looked certain to take a well-deserved point, Moss retreated superbly to save the day for the Lions and to secure the three points.
Palace: Jacob Russell, D.Boateng, Tavares, Rich-Baghuelou, Watson, M.Boateng, McGregor, Kirby [Thiselton 45], Addy, Aveiro, Street [Gordon 65].
Subs Not Used: Jude Russell, Luthra, Trialist.
Millwall: Sandford, Moss, Tiensia, Mitchell, Ransom, Strachan, Burey, Duncan, Alexander, A.O'Brien [Skeffington 85], Skalak.
Subs Not Used: Topalloj, Wright, S.O'Brien, Barton.