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Match Report


Posted Sat 31 Dec 11 at 16:13 PM

Millwall 0 Crystal Palace 1

Jermaine Easter returned to haunt former club Millwall with a 23rd-minute goal as Crystal Palace secured bragging rights in a scrappy south London derby at The Den.
Easter, who spent a period on loan with The Lions in 2008, was on hand to fire home the match-winner from Darren Ambrose's low delivery.
Millwall had kicked off 2011 with a comfortable 3-0 success against The Eagles, but the visitors proved to be a different proposition from the side beaten so soundly 12 months ago.
"You have to learn from the good and the bad," said Lions boss Kenny Jackett. "From the goal onwards, we had enough of the ball and enough time to get back into it, but particularly in the forward positions, we didn't have enough quality."
In a fiercely contested match of limited clear chances, it was The Lions who carved out the first opening with a piece of opportunism from Jack Smith. Picking up a clearance from keeper Steve Mildenhall, the right-back looked to have miscontrolled the ball on the touchline, but regained his composure and hit a first-time shot that had Eagles keeper Lewis Price scampering across goal to gather at his near post.
A quick counter-attack from the visitors ended with a poor finish from Mile Jedinak, who dragged the ball well wide of the target.
However, Palace made the breakthrough midway through the half when Jedinak played in Ambrose, and his deflected delivery was finished at close-range by Easter.
A fine save by Lions keeper Steve Mildenhall averted the danger four minutes later when Ambrose's deep free-kick was not dealt with by the home defence enabling Jedinak to tee up a shot that forced Mildenhall to tip over.
Moments later Millwall really should have levelled the score. Hamer Bouazza ghosted past Nathaniel Clyne and despatched a delicious delivery that Dany N'Guessan met at the far post. In a near identical finish to that of Darius Henderson against Cardiff City three weeks ago, N'Guessan's header from barely three yards bounced down and over the bar.
Liam Trotter then picked up a sublime forward pass by N'Guessan and with only keeper Price standing between him and goal glory, saw the Palace keeper stick out his left leg to block his goalbound shot.
Jackett brought on loan striker Jay Simpson at the break for his last appearance before returning to Hull City and within 40 seconds of the restart Millwall had chalked up their first corner of the game - and so nearly a goal too with Trotter's glancing header flashing inches wide from Liam Feeney's delivery.
Trotter saw his 51st-minute 18-yard lob drop onto the roof of the net and then Bouazza's fizzer flew off target as The Lions tried to find a way through.
James Henry came on for Bouazza on 66 minutes and within seconds of entering the fray was booked following an embarrassing dive by Eagles defender Jonathan Parr yards from his own corner flag.
Parr further frustrated The Den faithful 19 minutes from time when he cleared Paul Robinson's header from a Henry corner off the line and then John Marquis was dumped on his backside as he tried to get on the end of a Feeney cross, but referee Roger East waved play on.
As hard as The Lions tried to find that little piece of composure in and around the danger zone, the Palace rearguard stood firm and when Feeney misshit his shot from four yards from a Henry free-kick three minutes from time, you just knew it was not going to be Millwall's day.

Millwall: Mildenhall, Smith, Craig, Abdou, Robinson, Lowry, Bouazza (Henry, 66mins), Trotter, N'Guessan (Simpson, 46mins), Marquis, Feeney. Subs not used: Forde, Ward, Wright.
Bookings: Smith (5mins), Henry (67mins)

Crystal Palace: Price, Clyne, Parr, McCarthy, Gardner, Ambrose, Dikgacoi, Jedinak, Zaha (Scannell, 73mins), Easter (Murray, 77mins), Martin (Ramage, 85mins). Subs not used: Fitzsimons, Garvan.
Booking: Martin (84mins)
Scorer: Easter (23mins)

Ref: R East
Att: 16,085 (away (2,238)

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