But Li­ons louts let club down again

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP -

KARI Ar­na­son’s last-ditch win­ner sparked ju­bi­la­tion for Rother­ham – and vi­o­lent scenes in the away end as Mil­wall’s fans shame­fully let their frus­tra­tions boil over.

Be­hind to Marytn Wool­ford’s op­por­tunist opener, the Millers equalised through Danny Ward be­fore Ar­na­son’s dra­matic header cut the strug­gling Li­ons six points adrift of safety.

Cue may­hem in the stands as a size­able con­tin­gent of the 1,309 Mill­wall sup­port­ers charged through ste­wards in a bid to attack ri­val fans.

This was no mere pos­tur­ing. Punches and kicks rained down on ste­wards – both male and fe­male – while po­lice in riot gear were forced to de­fend them­selves with trun­cheons as wave af­ter wave of fans laid siege to two cor­ners of the ground.

The vi­o­lence then con­tin­ued af­ter the fi­nal whis­tle with run­ning bat­tles out­side the New York Sta­dium and coins hurled at the ground’s win­dows.

Mill­wall’s fans may suf­fer un­fair stereo­typ­ing but sav­agery like this will do their rep­u­ta­tion no good at all and for Ian Holloway – al­ready un­der im­mense pres­sure – it was the worst pos­si­ble end to a bit­terly dis­ap­point­ing day.

The Li­ons boss cut an un­usu­ally down­beat fig­ure at the end and ap­peared to ad­mit that his 13month ten­ure at the Den could be drawing to a close.

“I be­lieve I can turn this around,” said Holloway, who claimed not to have seen the car­nage in the away end. “I be­lieve my play­ers can do it. If other peo­ple don’t, that’s out of my con­trol. And if a group of sup­port­ers had their fin­ger on the but­ton, they’d prob­a­bly have pushed it.

“That’s life, I’m afraid.The pres- sure seems to be build­ing and build­ing in what is the hard­est di­vi­sion of all. Some peo­ple have been sacked when they’re sev­enth. Some peo­ple are in the play-offs and have been told that their chair­man doesn’t want them. It’s a crazy old game at the mo­ment.

“I get on fan­tas­ti­cally well with my chair­man but even he got abused the other day when he came out of the ground. He doesn’t de­serve that. If it wasn’t for him, there would not be a Mill­wall.

“I be­lieve we are a great club who will stay up. But I know I’m in a re­sults busi­ness. If I don’t get them, we’ll dis­cuss things with the club.”

Three points be­hind their hosts at kick-off, this was Mill­wall’s big­gest match of the sea­son and for 45 min­utes, nei­ther Ollie nor their fans had cause for com­plaint.

With both sides ner­vous and er­ror-strewn, the Li­ons cap­i­talised on hes­i­ta­tion at the back when Gary Tay­lor-Fletcher clev­erly nod­ded down for Wool­ford to shin a for­tu­itous fin­ish be­yond Adam Collin.

And Mill­wall should have made it two be­fore the break, Lee Gre­gory latch­ing onto Tay­lor-Fletcher’s deft flick only to be de­nied by a bril­liant sprawl from Adam Collin.

Mo­men­tum lost, Rother­ham emerged in far feistier mood and im­me­di­ately seized a foothold. Ben Pringle’s arc­ing ball to the back post was knocked down by

Matt Der­byshire and Danny Ward – via a mon­strous de­flec­tion – ri­fled home.

Al­ready flag­ging, Mill­wall suf­fered a mor­tal blow when Tay­lor-Fletcher was forced off with a cut scalp, the re­sult of a de­lib­er­ate el­bow from Kirk Broad­foot.

As an em­bold­ened Rother­ham pressed, Jack Hunt clat­tered a post and David Forde tipped over from Richie Small­wood be­fore Ar­na­son rose at the back post to thump home.

“At half-time, they were like a bunch of wee boys sit­ting in a class­room feel­ing sorry for them­selves,” said Millers boss Steve Evans.

“They needed some­one to stand up and re­as­sure them and that’s what I did. I was very calm and mea­sured. I just wanted them to keep play­ing be­cause I thought the per­for­mance was very good.

“We were the ones who kept play­ing.We were the ones cre­at­ing chances.”

PIC­TURE: Me­dia Im­age

HEAD ARN: Kari Ar­na­son heads in Rother­ham’s win­ner Inset: Mar­tyn Wool­ford fires past Rother­ham keeper Adam Collin to give Mill­wall a 1-0 lead

FLASH­POINT: Fans tan­gle with po­lice

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