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Match Report

 

Posted Sat 03 May 14 at 14:21 PM

Full-time from The Den

Martyn Woolford headed Millwall to Championship safety with a superb 29th-minute winner that clinched three priceless points at home to AFC Bournemouth.

The Lions winger took his season's tally to nine goals when he rose to send a majestic glancing header from Owen Garvan's brilliant delivery past keeper Lee Camp to send the Den faithful into ecstasy.

How ironic it was that Woolly five years ago scored the heartbreaking goal that saw The Lions pipped 3-2 by Scunthorpe in the League One Play-Off Final and on Saturday afternoon bagged the goal that ensures Ian Holloway and his side can now look forward to a fifth successive season in the second tier of English football.

Victory on the day not only extended The Lions unbeaten run to eight games, but also handed the home fans only a second win in SE16 since the turn of the year.

And how they played their part too! From the time the players emerged out of the tunnel and onto the pitch for the pre-match warm-up to the final few seconds when the reality of Championship survival was all but assured, Millwall's supporters to a man, woman and child backed their team to the hilt.

The Den was in full voice - and the players responded.

Naming a team that showed just one change from the side that drew at QPR - Steve Morison in for the injured Lee Martin - Millwall started steadily, absorbed an early spell of Bournemouth pressure and gradually worked their way right into proceedings.

Thereafter the Bournemouth goal led a charmed life and keeper Camp saved well from Woolford at his near post before a frantic goalmouth scramble then saw Stefan Maierhofer's header and Garvan's follow-up blocked on the line before Steve Morison hooked the rebound over the top. 

Morison went agonisingly close to opening the scoring moments later when his volley came back off the crossbar, before Maierhofer's blushes were spared by an offside flag when he rolled the ball agonisingly wide of an open goal. 

Eddie Howe's side, missing top scorer and former Lions striker Lewis Grabban, caused a few problems of their own and Yann Kermorgant was denied by an excellent save from David Forde, who flung himself low to his left to get his fingertips to push the striker's goal-bound 25-yard free-kick past the post for a corner. 

But it was Millwall who made the all important breakthrough on 29 minutes - and what a goal it was! Garvan showed real determination to battle and win possession on the left, then produced a sublime delivery that picked out Woolford, who rose above Steve Cook and sent a perfect header beyond Camp and into the back of the net.

The home fans were on their feet a second time, this time in appreciation of newly crowned Player of the Year Forde, who produced a stunning stop to save Shaun MacDonald's powerful header. 

Lions boss Ollie replaced the tiring Maierhofer just past the hour mark and sub Simeon Jackson could twice have put the result beyond doubt.

First, he was one on one with Camp but directed his shot wide of the right post and then in a near identical break, rolled his effort a whisker wide of the left with Camp stranded.

Scott Malone's spectacular scissor-kick effort was tipped over by Camp and at the other end Forde saved expertly with his feet to deny Andrew Surman as the visitors threatened as the teams traded chances.

Garvan was a lick of paint away from putting the result beyond doubt with an 82nd-minute free-kick that deceived everyone - keeper Camp included - and crashed back off the bottom of the post before the danger was cleared.

As the nerves started to kick in a little on the pitch, the fans made sure that they carried the team over the finishing line with some unbelievably loud vocal backing and The Lions held out to celebrate mission accomplished at the end of a most challenging season in SE16.

Millwall: Forde, Edwards, Malone (Fredericks, 86mins), Beevers (Robinson, 34mins), Dunne, Bailey, Edwards, Garvan, Morison, Maierhofer (Jackson, 63mins), Woolford. Subs not used: Bywater, Robinson, Abdou, McDonald. 
Bookings: Beevers (12mins), Bailey (44mins) 
Scorer: Woolford (29mins) 

AFC Bournemouth: Camp, Smith (Francis, 46mins), Rantie, Elphick, Ritchie, Fraser (Pitman, 71mins), Kermorgant, Daniels, O'Kane (MacDonald, 46mins), Surman, Cook. Subs not used: Allsop, Harte, MacDonald, Pugh, Coulibaly.
Booking: Smith (45+1min)

Ref: M.Naylor
Att: 15,779 (away 1,351)

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