Fulham squandered the opportunity to move above Leeds United into second in the Championship after drawing 1-1 at Millwall this evening. The Whites were furious that Jon Dadi Bodvarsson’s equaliser was allowed to stand despite the Icelandic forward being a couple of yards offside when he touched home from a corner, but a point apiece was the fairest result on the balance of play.
Scott Parker’s side knew they could move in the automatic promotion places with a win at the Den after Leeds’ draw with Brentford last night and they got off to the perfect start after just three minutes. A quick free-kick saw Harry Arter feed Joe Bryan and, as Millwall’s defence rushed out to meet him, the left-back spun to fire in a low cross for Aleksandar Mitrovic, who gleefully grabbed his third goal in as many games against Millwall.
The hosts, however, hadn’t read the script. Gary Rowett wanted his side to show far more invention and desire than they had managed in a meek surrender to league leaders West Brom on Sunday and the Lions’ answered emphatically with one of their most impressive displays of the season. They were on level terms within five minutes. Fulham failed to deal with Ryan Woods’ corner, allowing Shaun Hutchinson to head across goal and Bodvarsson touched home at the far post. Referee Andy Madley went and consulted with his assistant but gave the goal – only for television replays to clearly show the goalscorer in an offside position.
The equaliser only enlivened the home side’s spirit. Their energetic press, combined with an atrocious playing surface, had disrupted Fulham’s pretty passing and soon Millwall were on the front foot. Some timely covering from Denis Odoi prevented Tom Bradshaw from sneaking onto Bodvarson’s flick, but the hosts had even better chance to take the lead when Bryan brought down the rampaging Mahlon Romeo in the box. Jed Wallace, who had played in the impressive wing-back, stepped up to take the penalty but went for power over placement and blazed it wildly over the bar.
The penalty miss didn’t sap any of Millwall’s energy. Rowett’s men could have easily been well in front by the break. Marek Rodak had to readjust to repel a Romeo effort that threatened the far corner and Bodvarsson was left totally free to divert a Jed Wallace free-kick fractionally wide. Rodak was called into action again to deny Jed Wallace after the winger was found by a wonderful pass from his namesake Murray.
The second half was an altogether cagier affair as the rain began to pour down. Fulham began to assume a degree of control, although clear-cut chances were few and far between. Josh Onomah had an effective game in the middle of the park for Fulham but he lost his composure after engineering a couple of shooting opportunities for himself. With a little more awareness, he might have squared the first chance to a waiting Mitrovic, who was rightly furious. Although they were operating almost exclusively on the counter attack, the clearest chances actually arrived for Millwall. Jed Wallace saw a shot bravely blocked by Ream before excellent approach play from Bodvarsson sent Bradshaw in, but Rodak produced a smart save – not for the first time this season.
Rowett sent on Jiri Skalek and former Fulham forward Matt Smith as the home side sought a winner, but it was the visitors who came closest to snatching the points during three minutes of stoppage time. Their substitutes, Ivan Cavaleiro and Neeskens Kebano, almost combined to grab a famous win with the Congolese winger climbing majestically well in front of the near post to head Cavaleiro’s corner against the crossbar. Such was Fulham’s desperation that Bryan lashed a long-ranger high into the travelling fans as Parker’s men had to make do with a point.
MILLWALL (3-4-1-2): Bialkowski; Hutchinson, Cooper, Pearce (Smith 86); Romeo, M. Wallace, Molumby, Woods (Skalak 86); J. Wallace; Bodvarsson, Bradshaw (Leonard 77). Subs (not used): Steele, Ferguson, O’Brien, Mahoney.
GOAL: Bodvarsson (8).
FULHAM (4-3-3): Rodak; Odoi, Bryan, Hector, Ream; Arter (Kebano 88), Onomah, Cairney; Kamara (Cavaleiro 71), Decordova-Reid, Mitrovic. Subs (not used): Bettinelli, Christie, S. Sessegnon, McDonald, Johansen.
BOOKED: Cairney, Arter.
GOAL: Mitrovic (3).
REFEREE: Andy Madley (Huddersfield).