Millwall defeated Hull City 2-1 at The Den on Easter Monday to move to within one point off the Championship play-off positions.
Scott Malone’s loose touch was pounced on by Richie Smallwood, whose clearance rebounded off the Lions’ wing-back and flew into the back of the net to give the hosts the lead just after half-time.
Shortly after the South London club doubled their advantage – Benik Afobe’s knockdown fell to Tom Bradshaw, who made no mistake.
The Tigers did pull one back with three minutes remaining when Tom Eaves cannoned home from close range but Millwall saw the match out.
Here are Kai Bennett’s four takeaways.
LIONS BOAST BEST HOME RECORD
Millwall’s win against Hull at The Den means they now have the best home record in the Sky Bet Championship this season, although league leaders Fulham have played two games fewer.
The Lions have picked up 42 points in 22 matches in SE16 this campaign – 12 wins, six draws and four defeats – which gives the South London club that impressive stat.
The Den has always been a tough place to visit but without fans throughout the Covid pandemic, Millwall arguably suffered the most from having no supporters in attendance.
Once again the Lions fans got their team over the line on Monday – spurring the players on in the final few moments to ensure the Tigers did not snatch a late equaliser.
It is no surprise that Millwall have been so lethal in front of their home support this season and that record means they are in real contention of promotion.
FORTUNE IS DESERVED
People say you make your own luck and that could not be more true than Scott Malone’s opener for Millwall on Monday afternoon.
A loose touch looked as though the move and chance had gone but for Richie Smallwood’s clearance ricocheting off Malone’s shin and into the back of the net.
So many times this season the ball hasn’t quite fallen for the South London club and therefore their opener against the Tigers was a huge slice of fortune that was certainly deserved.
Just minutes prior to that goal Benik Afobe had an effort tipped over the bar by Hull keeper Nathan Baxter, so when that effort went in you felt Millwall deserved the lead.
That goal gave Millwall the confidence to go on and win the game and perhaps settled the nerves the Lions players and supporters were feeling after a flat first half performance.
GEORGE SAVILLE BOSSES MIDFIELD
Saville returned to Millwall for the fourth time in his career when he signed on a permanent deal from Middlesbrough just three years after leaving the capital to sign for the Teessiders.
The former Boro man controlled the midfield in the Lions victory over the Tigers and made five tackles – the most in the Lions side – only Hull’s Smallwood bettered that with eight.
But his defensive capabilities didn’t stop there as the Northern Ireland international won two aerial duels.
Saville is superb at breaking up play but also holds a threat when going forward and creating chances and floated in some teasing crosses that could have led to so much more.
The 28-year-old has had a bit of a stop-start first season back in South London due to injuries but now he looks as though he is peaking at just the right time.
RESULTS GO MILLWALL’S WAY – AND THEY CAPITALISE
The Lions failed to fully capitalise on other results going their way on Good Friday but had no problems doing so just three days later.
Play-off rivals Blackburn Rovers, Middlesbrough and Coventry City all lost which meant Millwall’s win took them level on points with sixth-placed Sheffield United before they played Bristol City in the early evening fixture.
The Blades’ match ended in a 1-1 draw which means the Lions are just one point off the play-offs with three matches remaining of the season.
After the Swansea defeat just 13 days ago you felt Millwall’s chances of atop-six spot were slim – as they were six points off the top six with six games left – but the Lions have come roaring back, making up five points in three games.