Blues claim a deserved share of the spoils at the New Den to end the Easter programme with a return of four points
Town completed the Easter programme with a hard earned point against Millwall at the New Den, with the game finishing in a goalless draw.
Both sides had chances to win the game, with the hosts seeing an early Andy Keogh effort disallowed for offside, whilst Blues came close through Luke Hyam and Michael Chopra amongst others.
Mick McCarthy made five changes to the side that beat Leeds at the weekend, with Guirane N’Daw Lee Martin, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, Frank Nouble and Michael Chopra all starting in place of Andy Drury, Jay Tabb, Carlos Edwards, David McGoldrick and Daryl Murphy.
It was the hosts who fashioned the first opportunity of the game though, with John Marquis nodding the ball into the path of Liam Trotter but the former Town man lashed the ball just wide of Scott Loach’s goal.
The Lions thought they had opened the scoring after five minutes, as Andy Keogh planted the ball into the bet after meeting Jermaine Easter’s cross, but the linesman had his flag up for offside and referee Keith Stroud chalked the goal off.
Kenny Jackett’s side were certainly showing a physical approach to the game and Town skipper Luke Chambers was incensed by a forceful challenge by Marquis on Richard Stearman, with the referee brandishing a yellow card to the Millwall striker as Stearman received treatment.
The game was developing into a real scrappy affair, with chances restricted to a premium. Andy Keogh did go close for Millwall just after the half hour mark though, as his cross looped onto the crossbar and behind for a goal kick, although Loach was always likely to have the ball covered.
However Town suddenly grew into the game and Luke Hyam twice went close to breaking the deadlock.
After ‘keeper David Forde came racing out of his goal to make a clearance, Hyam immediately hit the ball back from fully 40 yards and was unfortunate to see the stopper get back to tip the ball away from danger from underneath his crossbar.
A minute later and good build up play on the right-hand side saw Nouble create himself some space to cross for Hyam, and the midfielder looked as if he had found the bottom corner before Forde sprung to his right and made a fantastic save to keep the score goalless.
Loach was being kept busy in the Town goal and he showed good reflexes after 53 minutes to keep out an effort from substitute Rob Hulse, after the striker connected with a Richard Chaplow centre around six yards out.
Blues were thankful for Aaron Cresswell after 56 minutes, with the left-back somehow clearing the ball off the line following a scramble in the Town penalty area, with Trotter then blasting the loose ball over the bar.
The left-back then turned provider at the other end, crossing dangerously into the box from a corner with Chambers flicking the ball onto Chopra at the back-post but the striker could only head over Forde’s goal.
Town went close again on the hour mark. Stearman found Chopra with a perfectly weighted pass and the striker cut in from the right before setting up Emmanuel-Thomas, who saw his fierce drive beaten away by Forde into the path of Nouble, but the former Wolves man couldn’t keep his follow up effort down and blazed over the top.
Blues were beginning to up the ante and good work from Emmanuel-Thomas saw him release Martin down the left after 68 minutes, with the winger delivering a low ball across the face of goal with Chopra unable to make contact at the back post.
However the hosts almost caught Town on the counter, as Chaplow fed Easter though the middle, but Tommy Smith made a superb last ditch tackle to deny the striker with Cresswell and Loach then combining to foil Liam Feeney on the follow up.
Shane Lowry almost broke the deadlock for Millwall after 77 minutes, but his curling left-footed free-kick from the edge of the area cannoned off the post and away from danger.
Moments later, Easter fired over from close range after being picked out by Feeney on the right as the game was becoming more and more stretched.
At the other end, Nouble showed great power to shrug off the challenges of Danny Shittu and Alan Dunne but saw his effort blocked by ‘keeper Forde from a tight angle with seven minutes remaining.
As the game entered the final minute, Millwall were presented with a great chance to snatch all three points. Skipper Chambers mistimed the bounce of a long ball forward which allowed Easter space behind the defence, but the striker could only fire into the side-netting as Blues held out for a deserved share of the spoils.
Millwall: Forde, Dunne, Shittu, Lowry, Beevers, J. Smith (St Ledger 80), Trotter, Chaplow, Keogh (Feeney 70), Marquis (Hulse 46), Easter. Subs not used: Taylor, A. Smith, Woolford, Abdou.
Booked: Chaplow, Marquis, Trotter
Town: Loach, Stearman, Chambers, Smith, Cresswell, Emmanuel-Thomas, Hyam, N’Daw, Martin (Tabb 86), Chopra (Edwards 75), Nouble. Subs not used: Lee-Barrett, Hewitt, Kisnorbo, Murphy, McGoldrick.
Booked: Hyam, Nouble, N’Daw
Att: 10,141 (1047 Town fans)