Perhaps the have introduced a Millwall mentoring scheme, but walking up to the ground I was passed by half of the West Midlands police force ferrying a similar proportion of opposition fans in distinctly the same direction.
With Millwall scheduled to play their FA Cup semi-final next week, their turn out was paltry to say the least. On the basis that nobody would want to risk getting hurt (did that include the fans?), it seemed that this was the ideal opportunity to secure the three points realistically needed to secure Championship football for next season.
It was obviously a major blow for Blues to lose Keith Fahey and Shane Ferguson (apparently sick). Nonetheless, we started off brightly. It was of course, too good to be true, as Millwall turned the screw; their goal came as no real surprise to the loyal locals who would be left perplexed by what was to follow.
First, the referee disallowed the goal, then allowed it, then disallowed it again. It was like a scene from ‘Carry On Ref’; the sweetest thing perhaps the forward who had ‘scored’ baiting Blues fans who looked on teary eyed – this time out of amusement and not pending disappointment.
Interestingly, it was Nikola Zigic who insisted that the Blues team didn’t line up on the halfway line to seemingly accept the ‘goal’, and this might have helped sway the referee into what turned out to be the right decision. Unfortunately, that’s all that Ziggy seemed to contribute to all game and to call him ponderous would certainly be an understatement; I soon expect a statement confirming he was suffering from glandular fever or something similar.
Luckily, Wes Thomas had sent his barn door for recycling and topped off his hard work and general sharpness with an excellent turn and finish. Unfortunately the rest of the team were patchy, with the exception of Nathan Redmond, who had another excellent game causing all sorts of mayhem down the right hand side. Elsewhere, Paul Robinson and Curtis Davies struggled manfully. Jack Butland was generally superb but occasionally as shaky as his kicking; Paul Caddis competent. But the rest were, frankly, woeful.
Mitch Hancox persevered but had a rocky time at full back, while Wade Elliott was wasteful, Ravel Morrison fleeting and Jonathan Spector well off pace prior to his unfortunate injury. Even worse, Callum Reilly – whilst still developing – appears to be heading for the Mr Average category. On the plus side however, it was youngster Koby Arthur who showed a few dazzling skills, despite looking slightly lightweight on the ball.
A draw was probably a fair result, although Millwall could have arguably pinched all three points late on. With Leicester away a tough ask Blues could face being dragged back into the relegation mire.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
– Is Callum Reilly likely to turn out a mediocre youth product?
– Should Jack Butland have prevented the Millwall equaliser?
– Should Nikola Zigic revert to being an impact sub with either Morrison or Redmond playing behind Wes Thomas as a loan striker?
Vice Chairman, Blues Trust