All last year’s pain of Millwall’s play off final loss to Barnsley was forgotten as Steve Morison struck, five minutes from time, to put Millwall into the Championship and condemn Bradford to another season in League One.
Millwall’s Shaun Williams battled on the left of midfield and managed to send in a low cross towards the Bradford goal, Lee Gregory stooped down to flick it towards the far post, just hoping that his strike partner would make that instinctive run. And he did. Steve Morison, on the stretch, struck the ball high into the Bradford goal from close range, giving the keeper no chance. And as he wheeled away to celebrate with the Millwall fans, manager Neil Harris checked his watch and began counting down the seconds. He continued to check his watch for the five remaining minutes and the additional five as Bradford pushed for an equaliser.
In the final minute of added time, Tony McMahon found himself in space on the edge of the 6-yard box and, with his team mates waiting for a cut-back, McMahon smashed a shot into the side netting and Bradford’s time was up, the final whistle came a few minutes later and the Bantams were left ruing their missed chances.
Millwall started the game very much on the front foot, forcing a succession of corners down the Bradford end of Wembley, two of which seriously threatened the Bradford goal. Hutchinson headed towards goal but it was diverted over by McMahon, while Morison headed wide from about 6 yards out.
But from one of these Millwall corners, Bradford came closest to scoring, Mark Marshall, Bradford’s player of the year, played through Billy Clark who looked to have put the Bantams ahead only to be brilliantly denied by Jordan Archer in the Milwall goal, whose fingertips brushed the ball off target.
After Millwall’s early spell, Bradford started to dominate the game, using Clark’s chance as a source of encouragement. Abdou brought down Clark on the edge of the area but the resulting free kick was headed away by Milwall’s big centre-half Hutchinson. Rory McArdle headed straight at Archer from the back post at a Bradford corner, he was looking to add to the two goals he already has in play-off finals.
Bradford continued to look for the breakthrough, a Billy Clark shot was deflected wide and the corner that followed was inventive but lacked a proper finish, McArdle charged in late and had two efforts from just the inside of the area blocked and the corner came to nothing.
Millwall struggled to involve their strikers, Morison and Gregory, who have 36 goals between them this season. Morison knocked down a free kick for Hutchinson whose half-volley was blocked. It was a half of two halves where both teams pressed but neither could find that decisive first blow, goalless at the break.
The game seemed more open at the start of the second half with both teams having good chances early on. Meredith went close for Bradford with a shot that was blocked. But it was the Rory McArdle who had the biggest chance as he headed over from a free kick, the defender just could not get his head over the ball and Jordan Archer watched it sail over his bar. McArdle repeated the trick a few minutes later. Jed Wallace was played through by Lee Gregory but could only drag his shot wide of the far post, Millwall’s best opportunity of the match up to that point.
But it was Millwall who took their opportunity to get to the Championship as Steve Morrison struck late on to send them back up the second tier of English Football after two seasons away.
Was this a deserved win for Millwall? Let us know in the comments below!