Lankester on target but Town beaten by Lions revival
Jack Lankester scored his first goal for Town but Millwall struck back in the second-half to get their first away win of the season.
Teenager Lankester gave Blues a dream start with a left foot strike and Blues dominated the early stages and could and perhaps should have added to the lead, with Freddie Sears twice going close.
The Lions were level on the hour, Shane Ferguson converting from the penalty spot and Jake Cooper added a second soon after. Tom Elliott made it three for the visitors and despite Kayden Jackson’s superb strike two minutes from time, Town’s New Year began with defeat.
Town made three changes to the side that went down at Middlesbrough at the weekend, Lankester, Ellis Harrison and Teddy Bishop coming in.
The game was only two minutes old when Lankester took centre stage, the 18-year cutting in from the right and curling the ball into the far corner to give Blues the perfect start.
Town pressed for an immediate second, Jordan Spence’s cross cleared by Cooper, Sears trying to teeing up Ellis Harrison, the former West Ham striker then denied by Jordan Archer from point blank range.
Sears had a another shot blocked as Millwall struggled to deal with Blues’ free-flowing forward play, Jed Wallace relieving the pressure with a snap shot at the other end that was beaten out by Flynn Downes.
Jed Wallace sent a 25 yarder well over, Bishop bundled over as he drove into the box but the only penalty claims came from the stands, Matt Pennington in the right place with a timely intervention to stop Ryan Leonard getting in as Millwall began to get back in the game.
Harrison showed great control to take Myles Kenlock’s cross on his chest then volley goalwards, the ball cannoning to safety, Harrison then doing superbly at the other end to stop Jed Wallace getting his shot in.
Town carved open the Lions again on 26 minutes, Bishop and Downes linking up well and from the pull back, Sears was denied what looked a certain second by a brilliant block from Ryan Tunnicliffe.
From the corner, Millwall broke and Dean Gerken was forced into his first save to keep out Jed Wallace, who ran half the length of the field before getting his shot in.
Lankester weaved inside and out after taking Bishop’s pass in his stride inside the Millwall box before James Meredith crowded him out, Sears showing his defensive qualities to rob Jed Wallace as he charged into the box as Town maintained the one goal advantage to the break.
Millwall made the first change of the game at the break, the experienced Steve Morison on for Meredith.
Morison was immediately in the action, leading a counter attack but he was wayward with his pass, Sears also off radar with a shot from distance as Town looked for that second goal.
Gerken had to tip over Jed Wallace’s cross, Harrison sidefooting wide from Spence’s cross after a slick move down Town’s right, Trevoh Chalobah testing Archer with a left footer.
Millwall were level on the hour, Luke Chambers penalised for bringing down Elliott in the box after he got on the end of Morison’s header and Ferguson did the rest from the spot.
Andre Dozzell replaced Bishop in Town’s first change, Paul Lambert and Morison getting yellows in quick succession and the Lions were ahead on 68 minutes,
Morison’s cross, Elliott heading back across goal and Cooper headed in from close range.
Jackson entered the fray but seconds later, Millwall extended their lead. Pennington’s backpass was short, Elliott challenged Gerken, the ball fell to Aiden O’Brien whose clever backheel set up Elliott to put the ball in from three yards.
Archer saved comfortably from Harrison’s deflected shot, Elliott replaced by Byron Webster in the Lions’ second change before Jackson set up a grandstand finish with a brilliant goal on 88 minutes, spinning on the edge of the area and finding the net.
Gerken joined the attack for successive corners as Town pressed for a dramatic equaliser, Archer saving at full stretch from Harrison but that third goal wouldn’t come.
Town: Gerken, Spence, Pennington, Chambers, Kenlock, Chalobah (Jackson 74), Downes, Bishop (Dozzell 63), Lankester, Sears, Harrison. Subs not used: Bialkowski, Knudsen, Edwards, Nsiala, Roberts.
Millwall: Archer, Meredith (Morison 46), Cooper, J. Wallace (Karacan 90), Ferguson, Romeo, Tunnicliffe, Elliott (Webster 81), O’Brien, M. Wallace, Leonard. Subs not used: Amos, Skalak, Brown, White. Booked: Morison.