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Millwall 0-0 Scunthorpe United: Report and reaction

Millwall take on Scunthorpe
Millwall take on Scunthorpe

Scunthorpe took a significant step towards reaching the Sky Bet League One play-off final after resisting intense Millwall pressure to earn a 0-0 away draw in their semi-final first leg.

Graham Alexander's team offered very little in attack but consistently absorbed the finest their hosts offered and, after five straight wins before their trip to The Den, they will expect to finish the job in the second leg on Sunday.

Millwall have been inconsistent in recent weeks, while this season, Scunthorpe have more home victories than any other League One team, with the exception of champions Sheffield United.

Should Millwall's eventful season end in defeat on Sunday, it may even be their striker Lee Gregory who takes much of the blame.

An exceptional opportunity fell to him in the 26th minute, after a through-ball from Jed Wallace - who had replaced David Worrall in the only change to Neil Harris' team - sent him one-on-one with Scunthorpe goalkeeper Joe Anyon. Gregory had both time and space to choose his spot, and that perhaps proved his problem as he shot poorly at Anyon, who dived low to produce a routine save.

The hosts continued to meet Scunthorpe's organisation with impressive intensity, but with too few moments of quality to create similar opportunities.

In the 35th minute, Wallace curled a free-kick low towards the bottom left corner, where the diving Anyon comfortably saved. Further pressure also forced Jordan Clarke to head just wide of his own post during first-half stoppage time, but the resultant corner came to little.

It was that same physicality that ensured they continued to stretch and overwhelm the visitors for much of the start of the second half, but also that same lack of incision that led to too few chances. 

For all of Millwall's pace and work-rate, the next time they again threatened was after a 56th-minute corner Scunthorpe struggled to clear, when the ball bounced kindly to Tony Craig on the edge of the area and from where he struck both high and wide.

Thereafter, the pressure that had steadily been building began to diminish, even if Scunthorpe offered little ambition in response.

Their captain Stephen Dawson had returned to Alexander's starting XI. If he is fit to play on Sunday after hurting his hand in a clash with Craig, they will reflect that their evening was extremely positive.

Match reaction


Scunthorpe manager Graham Alexander praised the performance of goalkeeper Joe Anyon.

Alexander said: "We had to dig deep, and really stay focused, and to a man they did that.

"We had to be defensively strong. We played here recently and had a poor result (losing 3-1 before five straight wins), so that was a massive improvement on that. 

"You want to take a positive result from the first leg but you understand the nature of the play-offs; nothing's settled yet. We'd have liked to have offered more as an attacking threat but had to work extremely hard to get the clean sheet.

"We were disappointed with conceding that opportunity but it was a great save from Joe. It was a big save at a big time, because we know the pressure would have built if we conceded. It was a fantastic save from Joe, it gave us a warning across the bow that we had to defend better across the game."

The biggest concern for Alexander is a potential hand injury suffered by captain Stephen Dawson, who was substituted in the 90th minute, and the manager said: "It's badly swollen, it looked quite sore when he came off.

"We're hoping it's a bit superficial and more bruising around it than actual damage to the hand."

His Millwall counterpart Neil Harris refused to be downbeat at their inability to win despite them being the superior team.

He said: "I'm pleased we were the better side, and pleased not to concede a goal.

"It will (feel like a missed opportunity) for Lee (Gregory), because he thrives on scoring goals. 

"There's four quarters of football in the two ties. We've not been beaten in the first two; that was important to not get beat.

"We'd love to have a lead going into the second leg, but as a team and a club, this year and last year certainly, when we've been the slight underdog we're at our best."

Sky Bet update


Scunthorpe and Millwall can't be split by Sky Bet in the odds for the second leg of their League One play-off semi-final tie.

Both teams are on offer at 8/5 to win at Glanford Park on Sunday and the draw, which would lead to extra-time, is available at 23/10.

Sky Bet go 5/6 for both teams in their prices to reach the final so it really is all to play for after a goalless opening encounter.

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Most Read Football

Check out today's Paper Talk1

Paper Talk: The Italian job?

Jose Mourinho to Inter Milan, Paul Pogba heading to the exit door - lots more too in a bumper Sunday edition.

Sporting Life's big game preview for Liverpool v Manchester United
2

Reds too good for arch rivals

Liverpool are backed to make a fast start at Anfield to help them get the better of arch rivals Manchester United in Sunday's huge showdown.

Sporting Life's Premier League preview3

Saints to grind it out

The first Super Sunday game sees Arsenal attempt to continue their unbeaten run as they face Ralph Hasenhuttl's Southampton.

Sporting Life's Premier League preview4

Success on south coast for Blues

Brighton host Chelsea in Sunday's early kick-off in the Premier League and George Pitts provides his best bet.

The latest rumour and gossip from the back pgaes5

Paper Talk: Wilson to Chelsea?

Chelsea 'confident' of agreeing £30m deal for Callum Wilson, Paul Pogba could return to Juventus in a swap deal and more, all in Saturday's back pages.

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