Report | Millwall 0-0 Wigan Athletic
Goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen produced a vintage display as 10-man Wigan frustrated Millwall on a night of drama at The Den.
The Latics were forced to play an hour of the game at a numerical disadvantage after Sam Morsy was dismissed for two bookable offences.
But The Lions were left wondering what might have been as veteran stopper Jaaskelainen proved an unbeatable last line of defence, denying Jed Wallace, Steve Morison, Lee Gregory and Jimmy Abdou with top-class saves.
Neil Harris' charges had hoped to close the gap on second-placed Wigan and did everything but score against the visitors who extended their unbeaten run to 13 games with this share of the spoils.
Boss Harris stuck with the same team that started against Doncaster on Saturday as The Lions remained unchanged for a third successive game, whilst Wigan brought in Conor McAleny for Yanic Wildschut.
The teamsheets were significantly different from the last time the two sides met at The Den in April 2015, with just three Lions players - Mark Beevers, Jimmy Abdou and Lee Gregory - and one Wigan player, Jason Pearce, surviving from that fixture.
How fitting then that Abdou, who was on target in that 2-0 Den victory, should prove such an immense figure during Tuesday night's game as there could not possible be a blade of grass on The Den pitch that he did not cover during the 90 minutes.
It was from a big Abdou block after four minutes, however, that The Latics actually produced their only effort on goal in an eventful opening half as the midfielder's clearance smashed inadvertently against David Perkins and was heading for the bottom corner until Jordan Archer flung himself across goal to save at the second attempt.
Two minutes later Wallace was put through down the left, but with Shane Ferguson in a central position and screaming for the ball, the Wolves loanee went for goal and let fly with a scorching angled drive that Jaaskelainen superbly tipped over for the first of four Millwall corners in the opening 45 minutes.
Byron Webster went close with a diving header from a Ferguson free-kick and then a lovely sweeping move involving Mahlon Romeo, Morison and Gregory sliced open the visiting defence, only for the latter's delivery to fly across the face of goal.
Morison tried his luck with a first-time shot that flew wide as The Lions continued to ask questions of the visiting rearguard, and Harris' men found themselves with a numerical advantage with around an hour to play when Morsy was shown a second yellow card for a bodycheck on Gregory just five minutes after he had been booked for a cynical foul on Wallace.
Ironically despite being a man down, Wigan then produced their best spell with both Ryan Colclough and Conor McAleny firing narrowly off target from distance.
However in a pulsating first-half, Millwall had what appeared to be a decent appeal for a penalty waved away by referee Lee Collins in injury-time when Gregory's legs seemed to be whipped away from him as he prepared to pull the trigger.
Wigan used the break to re-organise and on came Leon Barnett for Colclough to add more of a physical presence to the side.
Millwall started the second-half brightly and Morison went agonisingly close six minutes after the restart with a flicked effort from Ferguson's sumptuous delivery from the left.
Jaaskelainen denied Wallace at full stretch with a super save to keep out the winger's 63rd-minute free-kick as it curled towards the bottom corner before The Lions contrived to miss a hat-trick of excellent opportunities to break the deadlock in the space of a few seconds.
The Wigan keeper blocked Gregory's stinging shot and then somehow kept out Morison's follow-up with another splendid save. The ball fell invitingly for Wallace, but with the goal gaping, he thrashed his effort wide of the target.
Six minutes later Jaaskelainen thwarted midfielder Abdou with his best save of the night - somehow shooting a hand out to divert a powerful shot from the midfielder as it arrowed towards the top corner after after Wallace had laid the ball into his path.
The Lions kept the pressure on with left-back Joe Martin a whisker away from scoring his first goal at The Den, steering a header from another Ferguson cross a fraction wide and Morison lashing over after a Wallace free-kick was headed straight to his feet.
But for all their pressure, Millwall just could not find a way through a disciplined Latics defence and had to be content with a point that keeps Harris' men in fifth spot, three points clear of seventh-placed Barnsley.
Archer, Romeo, Martin (O'Brien, 79mins), Beevers, Webster, Abdou, Thompson (Williams, 64mins), Ferguson, Gregory, Morison, Wallace. Subs not used: Forde, Edwards, Onyedinma, Nelson, Philpot.
Martin (30mins), Webster (41mins)
Jaaskelainen, Perkins, Power, McCann, Morsy, Grigg (Wildschut, 79mins), Morgan, McAleny (Davies, 65mins), Colclough (Barnett, 46mins), Pearce, Wabara. Subs not used: Nicholls, Flores, Chow, Yuckic.
Morsy (28mins, 33mins), Wabara (67mins), Barnett (76mins)
7,981 (away 281)
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