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Match Report

 

Posted Sat 04 Oct 14 at 16:45 PM

Full-time from the iPro Stadium

Birthday boy Aiden O'Brien was handed his full Championship debut for Millwall and helped his side celebrate an excellent awayday point at high-flying Derby County.

Striker O'Brien, 21 today, was one of two players making their first league start for The Lions, with left-back Matthew Briggs also in the team. Like the rest of Ian Holloway's men, the duo worked their socks off as Millwall signed off for the international break with a rock-solid display.

There were five changes in all from the team that started against Birmingham City on Tuesday night, most significantly a new-look defence in which Byron Webster returned to the side to partner Shaun Williams - dropping back from midfield - in the heart of the back four. Skipper Alan Dunne reverted to take care of the right-back berth with Briggs on the left.

Richard Chaplow and Martyn Woolford were also drafted in by boss Holloway as he shuffled his playing pack again in a bid to arrest a run of results that had reaped just one win in the eight games prior to Derby County.

The home side tested Millwall's defensive resolve twice in the opening three minutes when Jamie Ward first dragged a shot wide following a corner in the opening minute and then hooked a left foot shot over from 16 yards just 60 seconds later.

It was an enterprising start by Steve McClaren's side, but have weathered the early storm, Millwall had a strong penalty appeal ignored by the officials when Lee Gregory was clearly pushed to the ground as he tried to connect with Chaplow's eight-minute corner.

The Lions had every reason to feel aggrieved once again after 17 minutes when it was O'Brien, this time, who appeared to be shoved off the ball as he shaped to shoot.

A quick counter-attack just two minutes later could have produced the opening goal for Millwall. A raking through ball from Chaplow picked out Gregory, who out-sprinted former Lion Zak Whitbread, worked his way into the area and saw his shot collected by keeper Lee Grant having not spotted the unmarked O'Brien screaming for the ball at the far post.

The game was opening up quite nicely now with the two teams trading scoring opportunities; Briggs firing inches wide at one end of the field before a flying save by David Forde kept out Ward's piledriver.

Referee Mark Haywood quite rightly brandished a yellow card to Derby's Jordon Ibe after his embarrassing 29th minute dive under pressure from Forde, and the Millwall keeper was also yellow carded for letting his feelings be known to the young winger.

Woolford was next in the book two minutes later when Cyrus Christie went to ground easily from his challenge. Justice was done, however, when Will Hughes' subsequent delivery was cleared by Forde and then O'Brien, who was awarded a free-kick himself after receiving a kick in the back.

O'Brien, playing with a maturity that belied his lack of senior action, went close on the stroke of half when he darted into the area and saw a stinging effort blocked for The Lions' fourth corner of the game.

There were no changes made at the break by either manager, although perhaps the belief in The Lions' camp had cranked up a notch following a really solid first 45 minutes.

The second period started in much the same way of the first with a flurry of initial pressure from the home side confidently dealt with by excellent blocks from Dunne, Webster and Williams in quick succession.

It was Derby boss McClaren who made the first substitutions of the afternoon, introducing Jeff Hendrick and Leon Best in a bid to break through what had been a resolute Millwall rearguard.

A spell of pressure by the home team followed briefly and there looked to be real danger when Ibe weaved his way into the penalty area, only to be foiled by a brilliantly timed interception from O'Brien.

Moments later the young striker, who put in an immense shift, was replaced by Scott Malone with Millwall's first change of the game.

Derby sub Johnny Russell saw his inviting low delivery flash across the face of goal and the frustration continued to grow among the home fans, not least when Scott McDonald sent a 25-yard fizzer inches wide of the post with 10 minutes remaining.

Lions boss Holloway, having introduced Fuller for Gregory on 75 minutes, made his third change on 82 minutes with Ed Upson replacing Abdou, who like Gregory had also put in a real shift.

Millwall dug in once more, and caused a few anxious moments for the home side with Malone inches away from connecting with McDonald slipped through ball and Fuller's full-blooded drive blocked.

The home fans started to stream out long before the final whistle because they knew that it really was job done by a gritty Lions side who were excellent value for a share of the spoils.

Derby County: Grant, Christie, Keogh, Whitbread, Forsyth, Eustace (Hendrick, 59mins), Hughes, Bryson, Ward (Best, 59mins), Ibe (Russell, 65mins), Martin. Subs not used: Mitchell, Calero, Shotton, Mascarell. 
Bookings: Ibe (29mins), Martin (30mins), Eustace (39mins), Whitbread (79mins)

Millwall: Forde, Dunne, Briggs, Webster, Williams, Chaplow, Abdou, Woolford, McDonald, Gregory (Fuller, 74mins), O'Brien (Malone, 67mins). Subs not used: King, Upson, Beevers, Powell, Shittu. 
Bookings: Webster (18mins), Forde (30mins), Woolford (32mins), Dunne (68mins) 

Ref: M Haywood
Att: 27,749

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