Millwall 0 West Brom 2
Millwall’s hopes of closing the gap to the top six floundered against table-toppers West Brom at a windswept Den.
With only one defeat in seven ahead of the match, boss Gary Rowett had every right to believe his team might bag a win to add more fuel to their play-off push, but apart from a brief spell in the first-half, they were very much second best.
A well-hit strike in the 42nd minute from Filip Krovinovic gave the Baggies the lead their football merited and they always looked in control. Dara O’Shea’s late header ensured the three points would be heading back to the Midlands.
It’s usually not the done thing for any self-respecting match report to include such irrelevancies as the weather but the exceptional mayhem caused by Storm Ciara was inevitably a factor.
In the opening moments, Albion took the best part of a minute to take a corner because the ball kept rolling away from the flag in the vicious wind.
But even in the spoiling conditions, the Baggies looked polished and swarmed forward in numbers. One of the Championship’s standout players of the season, Matheus Pereira, crashed an early effort against the foot of a post, with Bartosz Bialkowski nowhere near it.
Later, Kyle Bartley missed a sitter from close range after Shaun Hutchinson failed to clear a ball swung in to the near post, then Pereira’s smart through ball gave Hal Robson-Kanu a chance – which Millwall’s stopper got down to save.
Bialkwowski saved another effort from Pereira before the break, but soon after, the Lions keeper was finally beaten by a perfectly drilled right footer from the edge of the area from Krovinovic, after a smart turn inside Mahlon Romeo – Pereira almost inevitably the supplier.
And but for a superb last-ditch tackle from Jake Cooper, Robson-Kanu might have doubled the lead before the turn around.
The Lions did start putting a few moves together as the half wore on and Jed Wallace’s free-kick from distance caused Sam Johnstone to stretch to tip away, before the same player fired over from a good position after good work on the right from a marauding Romeo created the opening.
But Gary Rowett’s men did not offer up much of a threat in the second half and did well just to stay in the game for as long as they did.
Robson-Kanu somehow scooped the ball over the bar from zero distance at the start of the second half and for all their possession, they had to wait until the 84th minute to seal the deal – a near-post header from O’Shea at a corner from sub Kamil Grosicki gave Bialkowski no chance.
It was no more than Albion deserved.
Line up: Bialkowski – Romeo, Hutchinson, Cooper, M Wallace - J Wallace, Molumby, Woods, Williams (Bradshaw 77), O’Brien (Mahoney 59) – Smith (Bodvarsson 59). Subs not used: Steele, Ferguson, Pearce, Skalak