Millwall suffered their third defeat of the Championship season yesterday. Harry Cornick’s brace earning Luton Town maximum points in SE16 for the first time since 1999.
Here are Richard Cawley’s takeaways from the match.
IT’S NOT OFTEN THAT THE LIONS LOSE BY TWO
Millwall’s matches have been close encounters this season – at least in terms of the final scoreline. The stats back that up with Saturday’s match only the second time in the 2021-22 Championship campaign that there has been more than a one-goal difference. Sadly on both occasions it has been Gary Rowett’s side who have been on the receiving end, with the other game being the 3-1 defeat at Cardiff City on August 21 – after which the South Londoners went on a seven match undefeated run before this weekend.
Luton Town’s tactics saw them employ plenty of pressure on the Lions backline when they were in possession and it worked a real treat.
Quite often the home side were guilty of going long – not a productive option when you haven’t got the aerial presence of Matt Smith leading the line. And Bart Bialkowski’s kicking, again often as he was about to be closed down by an eager Hatters attacker, was also wayward. It didn’t help that there was no natural option to aim for. On at least a couple of occasions the keeper tried the shorter diagonal to Murray Wallace.
Millwall needed to play out with greater composure and confidence.
SPOT OF BOTHER
Millwall had a big opportunity to make the closing stages far more nervy for Luton when they were awarded a penalty, an easy decision for referee Chris Kavanagh after Kai Naismith inexplicably handled.
Jed Wallace’s penalty kick had plenty of power but Simon Sluga went low to his right to make an excellent save. The Croatian keeper also flew to his left to keep out a Wallace free-kick that was heading in. They were the best opportunities that the Lions produced as they struggled to fashion much of note in open play. Benik Afobe did see a first-half shot blocked by determined Luton defending. But it was a desperately flat performance by a side who had been hunting a third straight league win.
Only three Championship teams have conceded fewer goals than Millwall this season but Cornick’s ruthless finishing was the difference yesterday.
If you’re being kind then you could claim Elijah Adebayo applied just enough pressure to force Jake Cooper into a misdirected header in the lead up to the first goal. Shaun Hutchinson was also unlucky that his tackle rebounded nicely for Jordan Clark to tee up the Town number seven, who savagely dispatched into the top right corner of Bart Bialkowski’s net.
And Clarke produced another made to measure through ball in the 52rd minute for Cornick, who rifled low and hard across the Millwall keeper.