West Brom have closed the gap on the top two in the Championship after a 2-0 win over a stubborn Millwall side at the Hawthorns. Defeat for the Lions their fourth in five Championship see’s them drop into the bottom three and still without an away win this season.
After a frustrating first half the hosts took the lead with 22 minutes left when Dwight Gayle poked home from close range after Ben Amos had saved the initial header from a corner. Just eight minutes later former Arsenal man Kieren Gibbs doubled the Baggies lead and they saw the rest of the game out comfortably.
Neil Harris made four changes to his starting 11 following Wednesday night’s 2-0 defeat at QPR. Byron Webster made his first league start in almost a year following his long injury lay off he replaced Murray Wallace who has been the subject of criticism since coming into side to replace Shaun Hutchinson. Steve Morison was restored to the starting 11 and making his 301st Millwall appearance he partnered Tom Bradshaw up front. Jiri Skalak made his first league start for the club replacing Aiden O’Brien who was dropped to the bench following an inconsistent run of form.
The Lions boss admitted after Wednesday night that he picked the wrong team and the wrong tactics against QPR and that we would see a much more Millwall like performance and we certainly saw that. The Lions were the better team in the first half keeping Jay Rodriguez and Dwight Gayle who have scored 10 goals between them three more than the whole of the Millwall team quiet.
Jed Wallace admitted after the game against Leeds that he had not started the season as good as he would of wanted but he was the main creative player for Millwall in the first half and it was him who had the first notable chance when the ball bounced back up to him inside the box but he was unable to keep his effort down.
The hosts kept at bay for the most part of the first half, still looked a danger on the counter. Harvey Branes and Jay Rodriguez combined on the edge of the box but Barnes saw his effort drift wide of Ben Amos’s goal. Dwight Gayle went down in the box but nothing was given. Just moments later, Sam Johnstone way of his line presented the ball to Jed Wallace who’s lob was on target only to be denied by Craig Dawson who headed it off the line. The keeper soon redeemed himself saving a low effort from Morison to keep the scores level going into the break.
West Brom stepped up a gear after the break and there was an immediate difference in their performance. Jake Cooper headed Ahmed Hegazi’s off the line. Both sides then had injury scares, Phillips went down for the hosts and had to be replaced, while Skalak went down for Millwall but he was able to continue.
With both sides struggling to create chances, it was becoming clearer that a set piece could be the difference between the sides and the best route to goal and so it proved. Ahmed Hegazi rose highest at a corner and Ben Amos made a stunning save to tip the ball onto the bar but when your luck is out its out as the ball came off the bar straight to Dwight Gayle who tapped in from close range to give the hosts the lead.
The Lions were deflated after that and failed to clear a cross into the box that found its way to Kieren Gibbs who found the bottom corner with a low drive.
While it was an improved performance from Millwall it is now four defeats in five Championship games and Neil Harris’ side have dropped into the relegation places and now have a big game against Sheffield United at the The Den next weekend.
West Brom fans, can your side mount a promotion challenge. Millwall fans an improved performance but another defeat what needs to change for the wins to return? Let us know in the comments below or by tweeting us at @AllOutFootball_ using the hashtag #AOF.