Millwall roar to victory as fight for the Den drags on
In a week in which it was announced Millwall may be forced to leave the Den, the club wrote another chapter into the history of their stadium by causing one of the upsets of the third round.
Yet despite this comprehensive victory, Neil Harris believed his Millwall side could have done better despite outplaying their lacklustre, if understrength, Premier League opponents. Goals by Steve Morison, Shaun Cummings and Shane Ferguson left Harris proud, but he said: “I don’t think we particularly did much different than what we normally do – I might surprise myself when I watch it back.
“I thought there was a lot of effort and good shape, we pressed the ball at the right time, defended really well as a team. I said to the players, three-nil doesn’t flatter us – in my opinion we could have scored more.
“We guessed that Bournemouth would make changes because they’ve got a big few games coming up in the Premier League and they’ve got a very talented squad.
“If you’re trying to cause a Cup upset you’ve got to play to your strengths. We knew there could be a good atmosphere there today. We knew that Bournemouth would want to come and play football and that to have any chance in the game we would have to press high.
“But we’ll swap that victory today for three points at Charlton next week – that’s how big the game is. The players and the fans will enjoy watching the draw, and I will sit on the sofa with my kids and enjoy watching it.”
The question now is whether football will be watched at the Den for too much longer after the League One outfit revealed they may have to leave south London after a continued land dispute with Lewisham Council.
The club were determined to enjoy this fixture, however and, after Bournemouth made 11 changes from their draw against Arsenal, the hosts were quick to take advantage. A poor clearance by Bournemouth goalkeeper Adam Federici, after he was challenged by Lee Gregory, fell to Morison with a view on goal, but he perhaps hurried his first-time shot too much and steered the ball wide.
Success for the home side finally arrived on 26 minutes – an inswinging corner by Shaun Williams found the head of Morison, who made up for his earlier miss with a well-aimed effort. Millwall could have doubled their lead in the 34th minute when, after a powerful run, Fred Onyedinma was able to slot through to Gregory, but was just unable to put his subsequent effort on target.
The scoreline changed five minutes after the restart in favour of the home side when Federici failed to keep hold of a low cross by Morison, allowing Cummins to steer home from six yards out. It was hard to begrudge the League One side their two-goal advantage, as they looked more focused than their much-changed Premier League opponents.
A third goal for Millwall was almost delivered when Ferguson shot across the face of goal after the hour mark before a low strike in injury time put the tie beyond any doubt.
Bournemouth strangely lacked ideas against their hungrier and more industrious lower-league opposition and manager Eddie Howe could not defend the performance of his side.
“No complaints in terms of the result, Millwall deserved it,” he insisted. “This is a tough place to come to. When the crowd got behind the home team as soon as we gave them the first goal I thought it was going to be a difficult afternoon.
“In hindsight, I regret the changes. I haven’t been forced, but my hands were tied a bit. We’re so stretched because the Premier League is so demanding and we feel we need our best players available for selection.
“I can’t disguise how I feel. I can’t try and look for too many positives at this moment. I don’t think the players threw in the towel, the players didn’t play their best but it was a very difficult game to watch.
“We’re very much a team that relies on understanding of how we gel – building on-field relationships is the key to us.”
Lionheart: Byron Webster wheels away to celebrate Steve Morison’s opening goal