Young Lions claim derby honours with excellent awayday win
A dramatic late goal from sub George Alexander secured victory as Millwall’s U18s provided the perfect pick-me-up following their midweek FA Youth Cup exit by taking derby honours against Crystal Palace.
The teams were locked at 0-0 entering the final five minutes when Alexander, a 65th-minute replacement for Matt Neary, produced a strike of real quality to clinch victory for Chris Perry and Larry McAvoy's charges at The Eagles’ Beckenham training ground.
With Millwall’s U23s scheduled to face Colchester on Monday, the U18s line-up had a particularly youthful look about it with Alexander one of two 15-year-olds – Rob Strachan the other – to feature.
On the balance of play The Lions looked more dangerous than Palace going forward and certainly had the better of the limited opportunities in front of goal in a first-half high on effort and endeavour by both teams.
With half an hour on the clock Junior Tiensia’s drive was blocked on the six-yard line following a super driving run through the heart of the home defence.
Minutes later Tanto Olaofe embarked on another surging run, only to see his promising progress halted by a foul just yards outside the Palace box as he was getting into a position to shoot.
Seconds before the half-time whistle both Matt Day and strike partner Neary were just inches away from getting a touch to Matt Campbell-Mhlope’s inviting cross into the danger area.
It was end to end stuff after the break as both the young Lions and Eagles strove to grab an advantage.
The lively Olaofe was denied a certain opening goal when, following a Palace corner, he picked up the loose ball and ran the length of the pitch with ball at his feet. Having skipped past several tackles Olaofe was eventually thwarted at the very last by Palace’s keeper, who managed to divert the ball away for a corner.
At the other end Lions keeper Sam Jackson made what proved to be a match-turning save with seven minutes remaining, making an excellent stop to deny Ollett.
In Millwall's next meaningful attack, the visitors finally broke the deadlock. A precise upfield pass by Strachan found sub Alexander who held off his marker and, despite being under pressure and facing the tightest of angles, played the most delightful shot wide of the advancing Palace keeper.
With just a couple of minutes remaining it could have been 2-0; Tiensia spotted the Palace keeper well off his line and tried a speculative 40-yarder which had the stopper scrambling across his line, but the ball flew inches wide.
Millwall: Jackson, McNamara, Tiensia, Hanson, Debrah, Strachan, Olaofe, Wicks, Day (J. White 87’), Neary (Alexander, 65’), Campbell-Mhlope (Queeley, 60’). Subs not used: Wright, Skeffington.