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Match Reports

Lions end year on a high

Our report from the final game of 2018...

29 December 2018

Millwall ended 2018 with back-to-back home wins after Ryan Tunnicliffe's acrobatic effort gave The Lions a 1-0 win over Nottingham Forest at The Den on Saturday afternoon.

In a game full of action and chances, the midfielder's spectacular overhead kick in the ninth minute settled matters and lifted Neil Harris' side away from the relegation zone in the Sky Bet Championship.

Millwall boss Harris opted to keep his squad from Boxing Day's victory over Reading unchanged, meaning Steve Morison and Aiden O'Brien remained on the substitute's bench.

The Lions started the last game of 2018 at pace and nearly fashioned the first chance just 30 seconds in, but Tom Elliott was unable to control Tunnicliffe's lofted cross. Jed Wallace then almost picked out Shane Ferguson at the back post, but Tendayi Darikwa nodded away from danger.

Ryan Leonard's corner-kick on six minutes was deep, but Jake Cooper was waiting at the back post - his header, however, went across the face of goal without any decisive touch.

With nine minutes on the clock, Millwall took the lead in spectacular style. Another Leonard corner was aimed towards Cooper, who, whilst having his shirt pulled, managed to nod down into the path of Tunnicliffe, who expertly struck an overhead kick off the post and into the back of the net.

Forest began to settle around the 15-minute mark and had their first shot on target with 24 minutes on the clock, but Jordan Archer was equal to Joe Lolley's effort.

Meanwhile, Millwall were moving the ball forward at speed and were finding ways past the visitor's defence, but were unable to force the ball over the line. At the other end, however, Lolley's vicious drive looked to be heading in, but Archer once more stood strong and palmed the ball behind.

The atmosphere inside The Den was loud and that was driving The Lions on - Elliott won the ball in the centre-circle on 28 minutes and fed Ferguson, but his cross was agonisingly too short for the onrushing Tunnicliffe.

Millwall really were playing some silky football and a move between Tunnicliffe, Jed Wallace and Lee Gregory almost doubled the advantage on 33 minutes, but Costel Pantilimon plucked the ball out of the air inside the six-yard box.

Lolley, the sole provider of Forest's attacking threat in the first-half, crossed for Jack Robinson three minutes before the break, but he headed into the arms of Archer, before Matty Cash tried his luck from distance, only to shoot wide.

The first chance of the second-half went the way of Aitor Karanka's men, but Jack Colback's acrobatic effort nestled into the grasp of Archer. The impressive Lolley then cut inside and struck towards goal, but it dribbled wide, with Cash also finding the advertising boards behind the net.

The Lions lost Gregory through injury shortly before the hour-mark and it was his replacement, O'Brien, who was nearly presented with a chance to double the lead after Jed Wallace won the ball in the centre-circle and ran almost half the length of the pitch, but the winger's through-ball was cut out.

Jed Wallace himself then had a shot deflected on to the top of the net, before substitute Steve Morison glanced a Ferguson corner over the crossbar. Leonard's searching free-kick found an unmarked Cooper at the back post nine minutes from time, but his knock back across goal failed to be converted.

With 89 minutes on the clock The Lions really should have sealed the game, but after O'Brien's run took him past three Forest defenders, his square ball to Morison saw the striker hit the post with the goal at his mercy.

Adlene Guedioura put a 96th-minute free-kick over the bar in the last action of the afternoon.

Millwall: Archer, Meredith, Hutchinson, Cooper, J. Wallace (Karacan 90+1'), Gregory (O'Brien 57'), Ferguson, Romeo, Tunnicliffe, Elliott (Morison 71'), Leonard. Subs not used: Amos, M. Wallace, Skalak, Brown.

Scorer: Tunnicliffe 9'

Booking: Leonard, Karacan

Nottingham Forest: Pantilimon, Fox, Colback, Murphy, Carvalho (Grabban 65'), Cash (Janko 64'), Robinson, Lolley, Yacob (Guedioura 56'), Darikwa, Hefele. Subs not used: Steele, Watson, Osborn, Appiah.

Booking: Yacob, Robinson

Referee: Tony Harrington

Attendance: 15,273 (2,220)

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