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Four takeaways from Millwall’s 2-1 win over Blackpool – Zian goal debate and Long shot is taken

Millwall head into the international break off the back of a 2-1 win over Blackpool on Saturday afternoon.

Here are Richard Cawley’s takeaways from the match.

ZIAN IS OFF THE MARK….OR IS HE?

Zian Flemming has been Millwall’s biggest attacking threat in recent weeks but it’s not completely clear if he did get his first goal for the South London club yesterday.

Goal-line technology told referee Darren Bond that the Lions had scored in the 14th minute. But the Press Association, whose information is used by multiple websites, put it down as a Dan Grimshaw own goal.

With the benefit of a slowed down replay, it’s clear that the Blackpool keeper does fumble the ball against his left post. But, it’s unclear whether Flemming’s header from Scott Malone’s corner had already crossed the line before Grimshaw made contact.

The Amsterdam attacker reacted as if he had scored, doing his trademark celebration of UFC fighter Nate Diaz’s muscle flex pose.

But whatever the eventual outcome, Flemming’s performance was hugely encouraging. He had half of Millwall’s 16 chances and was really unlucky to hit the base of the post in the second half.

He also seemed to benefit from being played alongside Benik Afobe in a front two as manager Gary Rowett shifted to a 5-2-1-2 formation.

LONG SHOT

Millwall manager Gary Rowett made four changes from Wednesday’s 2-0 defeat to QPR – but there was no doubt about his biggest call.

Bartosz Bialkowski has twice won the club’s Player of the Year award and had made 100 successive Championship starts – 9,133 minutes of unbroken league football – but the Poland keeper was benched for the visit of Blackpool.

Rowett opted to give George Long his first start in the Championship for the Lions and it seems likely the former Hull City player will keep the spot once we emerge from the international break.

Long couldn’t be faulted for Charlie Patino’s equaliser, with Millwall picked apart too easily down the left side of their penalty area. He also did well to hold Theo Corbeanu’s fizzed cross.

The 28-year-old has more confident distribution and showed no signs of nerves despite the fact he had waited since May 2021 for a Championship opening.

Four takeaways from Millwall’s 2-1 win over Blackpool – Zian goal debate and Long shot is taken - broadway shows nyc - Entertainment - Public News Time

HOME FORM STILL IMPRESSIVE

Millwall have had disappointing and ineffectual performances against Reading and QPR at The Den, losing both without scoring, but it’s worth noting that they have only taken two points fewer at home than second-placed Norwich City in the 2022-23 campaign.

And they have taken the most points at home since the start of the 2021-22 season (57) with Sheffield United (56) and Middlesbrough (52) next in that list.

By and large their second-half displays at The Den this season have been a significant improvement on the opening 45.

Millwall had the chances in the second half to have the three points safely buttoned down.

Grimshaw saved from Malone and Afobe, with Thompson also making a block on a goalbound Jamie Shackleton shot.

Millwall’s performances have been patchy, but they are still only two points behind sixth-placed QPR.

Four takeaways from Millwall’s 2-1 win over Blackpool – Zian goal debate and Long shot is taken - broadway shows nyc - Entertainment - Public News Time

AFOBE IS A PENALTY BOX PREDATOR

For all the hustle and bustle that Tom Bradshaw and Andreas Voglsammer provide, Benik Afobe remains the Lions’ number one finisher.

When Callum Styles’ shot was blocked by the arm of a sliding Marvin Ekpiteta – quite probably it would have led to referee Bond pointing to the spot – there is no-one else that Rowett would choose for the loose ball to drop to. Afobe smashed beyond Grimshaw to put Millwall ahead for the second time on the afternoon, and this time it proved to be decisive.

A bit like so many of the home side, Afobe delivered more after the restart.

He had been relegated to the subs bench for a run of three matches – Burnley, Cardiff and QPR – but Bradshaw and Voglsammer were unable to open their goal accounts and fully take their opportunity to nail down a starting berth.

A bit like the mention above of Long, you would expect Afobe to start at Blackburn on October 1. Malone was another of the Lions’ best performers at the weekend and that gives Rowett food for thought down that left-hand side.

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