Set-pieces haunt Town again
New Town boss Paul Lambert was in the stands as Blues’ vulnerability at set-pieces was evident again.
Lee Gregory was the quickest to react twice inside the Town box from a corner and a long throw to put the Lions in control of the match inside the hour and an excellent finish from Ryan Leonard ended any hope of a comeback for Blues.
Trevoh Chalobah dropped into a back three role as Bryan Klug took charge of Blues and the Chelsea loanee’s long ball released Kayden Jackson inside the first minute but the striker ran out of space before he could trouble the Millwall defence.
Shaun Hutchinson responded for the Lions, heading over from a corner, Freddie Sears sent Matt Pennington’s cross back into the danger area but Jake Cooper cleared, then Hutchinson cleared from Sears’ cross as Jackson looked to get in at the near post.
Chalobah headed clear from Tom Elliott, the Lions then claiming Shaun Williams was pulled down in the penalty box, referee Robert Jones having none of it before Leonard volleyed wide from 20 yards.
Millwall got the breakthrough on 25 minutes, Cooper heading a corner back across goal and the ever alert Gregory volleying in from close range amongst a crowd of players.
Town were struggling to deal with Millwall’s set-pieces and the hosts were inches away from extending their lead on the half hour, Jiri Skalak’s free-kick falling to Hutchinson, his shot beating two team-mates and drifting just past the far post.
Elliott’s close range header from yet another set-piece went safely into Bart Bialkowski’s hands, Grant Ward whipping in a cross that had too much on it for Jackson, while at the other end Pennington held strong to hold off Gregory.
Jordan Spence replaced Cole Skuse at the break, the midfielder a doubt before kick-off with a knock.
Millwall doubled their lead six minutes into the second-half. Cooper headed on Leonard’s long throw and Gregory made no mistake from six yards.
Ben Amos plucked Sears’ cross out of the air as Town looked for a response, Blues then making a second change with Jack Lankester on for Jackson. Steve Morison on for Elliott as Millwall also shuffled their pack.
Luke Chambers robbed Gregory on the edge of the box as he threatened a third before Aiden O’Brien entered the fray, Skalak making way.
Chambers had a chance to reduce the arrears midway through the half but his left foot volley flew across goal, Lankester’s free-kick cleared but Millwall wrapped up the points on 70 minutes, Bialkowski’s punch ended at the feet of Leonard and he finished superbly.
Gregory received a standing ovation as he left the field 15 minutes from time, Tom Bradshaw the replacement.
Chalobah rattled the post with a fierce drive in the last exchanges but the damage had been done, with half the goals Town have conceded this season coming from set-pieces.
Millwall: Amos, Hutchinson, Cooper, Williams, Gregory (Bradshaw 76), Ferguson, Romeo, Elliott (Morison 57), Wallace, Skalak (O’Brien 63), Leonard. Subs not used: Archer, McLaughlin, Meredith, Tunnicliffe.
Town: Bialkowski, Ward, Chalobah, Chambers, Pennington, Knudsen, Skuse (Spence 46) Dozzell (Edwards 80), Downes, Sears, Jackson (Lankester 58). Subs not used: Gerken, Nsiala, Rowe. Booked: Pennington.