Four takeaways from Millwall’s 1-1 draw against Sunderland – a packed Den, Leeds loanee plays like has point to prove and ref in spotlight
Richard Cawley provides his takeaways from Millwall’s 1-1 draw against Sunderland yesterday.
A PACKED DEN
A crowd of 18,524 were in attendance at The Den – the biggest turnout since 1995 and the third highest gate since the stadium was opened.
With Sunderland having both tiers of the away end, the noise generated from all four sides of the ground definitely seemed to add even more energy and impetus from both teams with the first 45 minutes very frenetic.
Let ‘Em Come yesterday. #Millwall pic.twitter.com/H2lMN6gE1x
— Richard Cawley (@RichCawleySLP) February 5, 2023
It was a decent, if bruising, game of Championship football between two sides that look like they will be in the mix for the play-offs.
Millwall extended their unbeaten league run at The Den to nine matches and actually moved up a place, to seventh, after their first draw of 2023.
DID THE REF GET THE BIG CALLS RIGHT?
Lions manager Gary Rowett felt the answer to that was no.
The first big call for official Thomas Bramall came early on as Tom Bradshaw went down inside the box. The Millwall frontman did well to stay on his feet as Aji Alese looked to shoulder him off the ball and then the Sunderland full-back definitely had his arm on Bradshaw’s right shoulder before he hit the turf.
But there was an even more blatant shirt pull on Jake Cooper in the second period as the centre-back tried to make a run to meet a Zian Flemming long throw. The centre-back isn’t looking for protection, he’s big enough to look after himself, but there are a steady stream of fouls that simply aren’t given to him.
Bramall did little to make himself more popular when he disallowed George Honeyman’s goal in the 29th minute.
I’ve attached a still of the key moment. The assistant referee ruled that George Saville was impeding Anthony Patterson’s line of sight for
Flemming’s shot, fumbling it for Honeyman to be left with a straightforward tap in. Probably the right call.
Patterson made a fine save to deny Honeyman in the second half but the Lions failed to make the most of their openings, particularly in a second period when they built up some momentum. They had 14 efforts – nine more than the Black Cats – but only two ended up on target.
SUNDERLAND CREATED VERY LITTLE
And that’s the other thing that made the result sting. George Saville was one of Millwall’s strongest performers, making the most attempted tackles (11) of any player. But he showed his frustration after catching Patrick Roberts and conceding a foul – the Sunderland winger actually checking away from danger when he was brought down.
Alex Pritchard’s free-kick was in exactly the right area. George Long opted to come to try and punch but only made contact with Dennis Cirkin. The fact the Sunderland sub got to the ball first ensured there was nobody on the line to keep out his header.
INJURY WOES BUT CRESSWELL IMPRESSES
Millwall’s squad lacks the depth of some of their play-off chasing rivals and now Mason Bennett has joined Callum Styles on the sidelines.
Bennett’s injury looked a serious one. The Lions attacker had his right leg in a protective brace when he was stretchered off at half-time and the fear is that he has suffered a fracture.
Shaun Hutchinson also missed out at the weekend with a quad issue but Charlie Cresswell, who has struggled to command regular game time, was excellent.
Cresswell won two tackles in quick succession in the lead up to Honeyman’s disallowed goal and also produced a Tony Craig-esque celebration after a perfectly-timed slide after Roberts had produced a surging run and shot.
The Leeds loanee played like he had a point to prove. More of that, please.
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