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Match Reports

Super-sub Smith rescues Albion point

Our take from The Hawthorns...

10 August 2019

Matt Smith stepped off the bench to score his first goal for Millwall and gain The Lions a valuable point at The Hawthorns on Saturday afternoon as Neil Harris' side drew 1-1 with West Bromwich Albion.

Kyle Bartley opened the scoring for The Baggies just before the hour-mark, but Smith - through a tactical reshuffle by Harris - came on and popped up with the equaliser 15 minutes from time.

Millwall boss Harris made three changes - one enforced - from the side that was victorious over Preston North End last Saturday, as Bartosz Bialkowski, Ryan Leonard and Tom Bradshaw all came into the starting XI in place of the injured Frank Fielding, Aiden O'Brien and Smith.

After a quiet opening on the pitch - both sets of supporters were making themselves heard off it - Filip Krovinovic curled home from 25 yards out, but an offside flag had previously gone up.

The home side were making most of the running in the early stages, but owing to some dogged defending - Leonard with one potentially goal-saving challenge especially - The Lions held firm. Matt Phillips and then Krovinovic once more tried their luck, but again Millwall stood tall.

The Lions' first real chance of the game came in the 15th minute, but after Jed Wallace's deep cross, Ben Thompson rose to head just inches past the post. Leonard then struck well wide with a first-time hit six minutes later.

With 32 minutes on the clock, indecision from Jake Cooper looked to have cost Millwall dearly, but after Phillips squared to Kenneth Zohore, a combination of Bialkowski and captain Alex Pearce heroically blocked the ball on the line.

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Mahlon Romeo had to withdraw nearly 10 minutes into the second-half through injury, with Shane Ferguson his replacement in an unfamiliar right-back role - and on 57 minutes, The Baggies had the lead. Phillips' free-kick saw Bartley rise highest, and although Bialkowski got a hand to the ball, it was not enough as it bounced up and into the net for the opening goal.

Shortly after the hour-mark, Smith's introduction - for Murray Wallace - saw Ferguson switch to his usual left-sided role, with Leonard taking on the right-back slot and Millwall switching to a traditional 4-4-2. The game was now opening up at both ends, with half chances for either side, but no truly threatening shot to either goal - that was until the 74th minute, when Smith's header crept inches wide of Sam Johnstone's net.

From the resulting corner, however, after the ball had made its way to Jed Wallace and the winger had crossed to the back post, Smith was well placed to poke into the roof of the net and level the scores.

The Hawthorns was now near silenced - one corner aside - and The Lions looked to nudge themselves into the lead, but a shot on the turn from goalscorer Smith and a grubber from Ben Thompson failed to find the net.

Thompson again tried his luck, this time from around 20 yards out, six minutes from time, but the ball flashed wide of the post with Johnstone an onlooker. 

The Baggies threatened late on and in five minutes of stoppage-time, but Bialkowski was equal to Nathan Ferguson's effort in the final action of the game - one which produced a solid point on the road for Millwall.

West Bromwich Albion: Johnstone, N. Ferguson, Bartley, Ajayi, Gibbs, Livermore (Burke 80'), Sawyers, Krovinovic, Phillips (Brunt 86'), Edwards, Zohore (Robson-Kanu 58'). Subs not used: Bond, Townsend, O'Shea, Harper.

Scorer: Bartley 57'

Booking: Ajayi

Millwall: Bialkowski, M. Wallace (Smith 64'), Cooper, Williams, J. Wallace, Thompson, Bradshaw (Bodvarsson 74'), Romeo (S. Ferguson 53'), Pearce, Leonard, Mahoney. Subs not used: Steele, Hutchinson, Skalak, O'Brien.

Scorer: Smith 75'

Booking: J. Wallace, Thompson

Referee: David Webb

Attendance: 24, 305 (1,567)


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