Lee Gregory’s goal earned Millwall a Friday night win at Brighton
Brighton decline goes on with loss
DANNY Shittu insists Millwall’s battling qualities can propel them up the table after their rare win over fellow strugglers Brighton heaped even more pressure on manager Sami Hyypia.
Last time out the Lions were on the painful end of a 5-1 home defeat to Middlesbrough, but Lee Gregory’s early goal on Friday night handed them a vital shot in the arm when it came to their survival hopes.
It was just their second win in 16 Championship games but crucially lifted them five points clear of the Seagulls, currently in the league’s relegation zone.
“That’s what we needed, we’ve been waiting so long for that,” said Shittu.“You can see the guys go after it.We worked so hard and we’re delighted to have got those three points.
“That’s what this league is all about. You’ve got to fight, you’ve got to play your football and you’ve got to fight. I’ve got so much cramp but it’s what you have to do. Onwards and upwards.”
And although Millwall’s goal may have had a slice of luck about it – Frenchman Magaye Gueye’s mishit shot turning into a perfect return pass for Gregory to lift home – manager Ian Holloway was also looking up the table, while also praising the effort of the match winner he signed from FC Halifax Town this summer.
“Gregory has been a revelation, he’s the best £250,000 I ever spent,” he said. “I thought we played really well and deserved the points. Once we got in front we proved we can defend. Now it’s onwards and upwards, let’s see if we can get two in a row.
“My team have done me proud since I’ve been here, let’s keep building and try to get up the other end of the table.”
With hosts Brighton also tasting victory just once in 16 games, the Friday night encounter at the Amex Stadium was always going to be a tense affair.
It was the Seagulls who had the first glimpses of goal early on but David Forde comfortably saved from Solly March in the opening minutes before Gregory saw his goalbound shot deflected wide.
But Gregory was not to be denied on the quarter-hour mark, continuing his run into the box to pounce on Gueye’s scuffed effort and drive the ball beyond the reach of David Stockdale.
Opposite number Forde then denied Jake Forster-Caskey at full stretch before pushing away a Joao Teixeira drive to maintain his side’s lead at the break.
Brighton were improved after the break and the otherwise quiet Darren Bent fired into the side netting before steering a header wide.
But despite a nervy ending, which saw Mark Beevers clear off the line from Gary Gardner and Shittu twice make two vital blocks, Millwall held firm to take a much-needed victory that lifts them five points clear of dejected Brighton.
The Seagulls, meanwhile, suffered their third defeat on the bounce, leaving a number of fans calling for Hyypia to be sacked.
Although the former Liverpool defender remained defiant.
“To answer that question on my future I need some time,” said Hyppia. “I feel very frustrated. Usually I’m not a quitter, I’m a fighter.
“I can understand the fans’ reaction. I don’t expect to be patted on the shoulder and told ‘Well done’ with how things are going.
“I think that’s normal, some of the fans are getting impatient and shout things, it doesn’t help anyone but you can’t control it.
“When you take this kind of job, I’ve always been prepared for everything, I’m not afraid of anything happening.
“When you take this job sometimes it doesn’t go your way, but in my mind I’m ready for it.”
FLYING LOW: Brighton’s Gary Gardner goes horizontal to try to stop Millwall’s Martyn Woolford
WINNER: Lee Gregory, right, fires in Millwall’s winning goal