XI) Millwall v. Middlesbrough

Millwall v. Middlesbrough
An action-packed game at The New Den brought many different emotions to the surface as Millwall welcomed Middlesbrough to hell.
The Millwall fans are well known for their ferocity and violent ways.
Even non-football fans are aware of their reputation thanks to the Hollywood version of Football Factory.
Yet these days it is a less scary and intimidating place to visit, or so I thought.
Buying tickets behind one of the goals in a game against the Smoggies, I was hoping to keep a low profile and witness a victory which would send the crowd around me home happy.
Boro had not won at Millwall since 1973, so Millwall’s six match winning streak at home was looking good to continue.
However it was not to be.

The first half started with Millwall taking charge of the game, attacking from the off, however it was Middlesbrough who created the first opportunity.
Leroy Lita first placed a free header over the bar and then saw his shot go wide of the goals having rounded Millwall keeper David Forde.
James Henry also hit the post for Millwall after evading the challenges of three Boro defenders in the opening exchanges.

The breakthrough for Millwall deservedly arrived in the 15th minute, Neil Harris poking the ball home after a David Forde free kick had been flicked on by Steve Morison.
Not long after and James Henry again went close, setting off on a mazy run before smashing a shot which just grazed the top of the crossbar.
Leroy Lita had another chance when he was sent free by a brilliant Julio Arca through ball.
The big striker again rounded Forde however on this occasion his goal bound effort was cleared off the line by Darren Purse.
Millwall really should have doubled their lead before the break, as they continued to force Middlesbrough back.
However both Neil Harris and Morision had headers saved by Jason Steele as the first period ended with the home side in front.

The second half started as a scrappy affair with both sides committing fouls and Julio Arca receiving the first card of the game.
Darren Purse was adjudged to have fouled Leroy Lita in the 58th minute allowing Boro a chance to get themselves back in the game.
Tony McMahon did just that, stepping up to send a fantastic free kick into the top left corner via the crossbar.
It was the first goal conceded by Millwall at home in over 200 minutes and it sent the Millwall crowd into a deadly silence.
The Middlesbrough contingent on the other hand, sprang into life for the first time of the match to give the home fans some stick and celebrate their team’s equaliser.

Boro took a shock lead in the 62nd minute, not long after Neil Harris saw Jason Steele save another one of his headers.
Nadjim Abdou’s (or Jimmy to the home faithful) pass was intercepted by Scott McDonald in his only mistake of the game.
The Australian brought the ball forward and exchanged passes with Marouane Zemmama before sliding the ball past Forde for his first goal in 6 games.
Ugly scenes followed as Millwall supporters began to throw bottles at the linesman, as suspicions of an offside angered fans.
Play was briefly halted as police contained the furious mobs who were now rushing towards the hoardings.
With bottles raining down, play was again halted when Boro keeper Jason Steele was targeted while trying to take a goal kick.
There was a fear that the game may be abandoned however play continued and soon after Hameur Bouazza marked his first appearance for Millwall with a goal.

Bouazza entered the field in the 64th minute as a substitute for Chris Hackett after his arrival from Arles-Avignon on loan for the rest of the season.
At this point every Millwall fan in the ground rose to their feet and began chanting the infamous club anthem.
“No one likes us, no one likes us!
No one likes us, we don’t care!
We are Millwall, super Millwall!
We are Millwall from The Den!”
Bouazza responded to the fierce support from the stands with a brilliant goal in the 78th minute.
The former Watford man stepped up for a free kick and sent a fine left footed effort into the top corner.
The scores were level and Millwall were all over Boro as they sought to find a winner.

Steve Morison almost put his side in front but his header was saved in the 79th minute, before Boro once again took the lead against the run of play.
Merouane Zemmama, who had earlier replaced the brilliant Julio Arca, ran towards the Millwall defence who allowed him time and space to send in an inviting cross.
Leroy Lita lost his marker and got to the near post to flick a tidy header over Forde.
Cue another eerie silence from the Millwall fans before their pain turned into rage, abusing the Boro striker as he celebrated with his teammates.
The language coming out of the mouths of 6-year-olds as well as 60-year-old women is too colourful to reprint.
Though it exposes not just the anger that seems to run through Millwall fans’ blood but also the passion and love they have for their team.
The players on the pitch tried in vain to find a second equaliser, however it was not forthcoming.
Middlesbrough shut up shop and although the home side sent in numerous corners and crosses into the box during the 6 minutes of added time there was to be no breakthrough.

The game finished with a disappointing end for the Millwall fans and players, yet the team was still warmly clapped off the park.
The effort was there, the desire was clear but all too often the final ball lacked class and for a side to deliver 15 corners in a match and not test the keeper more regularly was disappointing.
Poor finishing was well as an inspired performance from the Boro kepper, Jason Steele, also contributed towards the side’s first home loss in 7 matches.
To highlight the end of the match, more abuse was thrown at the referee, though this time bottles were either in short supply or thrown to the ground in disgust.
The referee and his assistants were escorted off the field by around 20 policemen, while once again the Millwall faithful rang out their tune,
“No one likes us, no one likes us!
No one likes us, we don’t care!
We are Millwall, super Millwall!
We are Millwall from The Den!”
Not many people do like the Millwall fans, mainly for their links to hooliganism.
Yet regardless of their actions during games, or their colourful past, you cannot deny that they put on a good show.

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