O’Brien ends Leeds’ un­beaten run

The Observer - Sport - - SPORT | FOOTBALL | SKY BET CHAMPIONSHIP - Barry Glen­den­ning

MILL­WALL 1 O’Brien 73 LEEDS 0

There has been a sense around The Den that Mill­wall’s per­for­mances have failed to yield the re­sults they de­serve on their re­turn to the Cham­pi­onship and for more than 70 min­utes it seemed the home fans might be left pon­der­ing the fu­til­ity of it all once again. Neil Harris’s side squan­dered enough chances to win sev­eral matches be­fore Ai­den O’Brien drilled home a de­flected Fred Onyed­inma cross from six yards to pro­vide a well-de­served win­ner in the 73rd minute.

Con­sid­er­ing the bom­bard­ment that pre­ceded it, it was re­mark­able that this was the first goal Leeds, who ar­rived and left as league lead­ers de­spite look­ing any­thing but, had con­ceded in 613 min­utes of Cham­pi­onship foot­ball. “We out­fought and out-run Leeds,” said Harris. “We ran Leeds off the park, so credit to my play­ers.”

In what proved a de­cid­edly pre­scient plan to hoist the Leeds portcullis, Harris made two switches from mid­week, with the duo who com­bined for Mill­wall’s goal re­plac­ing Shane Ferguson and Lee Gre­gory. His op­po­site num­ber, Thomas Chris­tiansen, made one change to the side that beat Birm­ing­ham in mid­week, send­ing Conor Shaugh­nessy in for in­jured cap­tain Liam Cooper.

Leeds were made to look or­di­nary dur­ing a first half when Mill­wall’s fail­ure to score was as­ton­ish­ing. Yet to get off the mark this sea­son, Steve Mori­son could have had sev­eral against his for­mer club, but re­peat­edly let them off the hook.

Hav­ing had a goal dis­al­lowed for off­side af­ter six min­utes, he later looked in­cred­u­lous upon fail­ing to get his toe on a Jed Wal­lace cross that could scarcely have been more invit­ing if it had ar­rived with a stamped and self-ad­dressed RSVP. While the vet­eran must have been won­der­ing what he had done to up­set the foot­balling deities, sev­eral of his team-mates also went close. Shaun Wil­liams had a free-kick de­flected wide, while a more in­soucient swish of his boot from 30 yards sent Felix Wied­wald scram­bling back to palm the drop­ping ball over his cross­bar.

“There’s a few of my boys dis­ap­pointed,” said Harris. “Ste­vie Mori­son could have had the match ball. Fred got in some great ar­eas and Jed came close. Ge­orge [Sav­ille] missed a sit­ter at the end be­cause of a lit­tle bob­ble. It was a re­ally strong per­for­mance and what I’m pleased about is that we kept go­ing.”

Chris­tiansen brought on Stu­art Dal­las and Ke­mar Roofe at the in­ter­val, but the Mill­wall on­slaught con­tin­ued in a sec­ond half that be­gan at a fe­ro­cious lick and rarely let up. Wal­lace brought a smart save out of Wied­wald with a sur­face-to-air screamer be­fore the un­marked cen­tre­half Shaun Hutchinson thumped an invit­ing ef­fort from eight yards straight at the relieved goal­keeper.

Shortly be­fore the hour mark, Wal­lace popped up again, rat­tling a low drive against the post, while Sav­ille missed a glo­ri­ous chance to put the game be­yond the vis­i­tors as he blazed over af­ter be­ing played through on goal.

Leeds, by con­trast, of­fered noth­ing. “We didn’t play a good game and Mill­wall de­served this win,” said Chris­tiansen, who added he would ex­cuse his play­ers this one bad per­for­mance.

Leeds were forced to play the fi­nal 10 min­utes a man down af­ter Pon­tus Jans­son was in­jured. Deep in added time, Mill­wall sur­vived a scare when a Eu­nan O’Kane free-kick looked to be drop­ping for Pierre-Michel La­sogga, but the goal­keeper, Jordan Archer, was on hand to clean up.

It en­sured a vic­tory that was no more than the ram­pant home side de­served.

John Fletcher/Ac­tion Plus via Getty Im­ages

Roar­ing Lions: Mill­wall’s Ai­den O’Brien yells with joy af­ter his goal sank Leeds.

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