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Jed Wallace’s return in a front three slices Derby open for Millwall’s third win on the bounce – South London News

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Derby 1 Millwall 2

 

BY DANIEL MARSH

It’s been a while since Millwall fans were treated to the Jed Wallace show, but the Lions talisman was back with a vengeance against the Rams

After having a hand in both goals in the 2-0 win over QPR, Wallace went one better by putting the Rams to the sword himself on Wednesday night as he continues to work his way back to full fitness.

Under Wayne Rooney, Derby have made a habit of striking late to hurt their opponents – but they were on the receiving end of a sucker punch themselves after just two minutes thanks to Wallace.

The Millwall winger’s fizzing free-kick from the left-hand side evaded a flurry of bodies to sneak past Ryan Allsop to put the hosts on the ropes in the early stages.

And Wallace was in the mix again when Tyler Burey rifled home his second goal in as many games to leave the Rams down on the canvas midway through the first half.

Mason Bennett stole the show in the build-up to that one with an outrageous solo surge down the same flank, but it was Wallace who was the conductor-in-chief for Gary Rowett’s side during a frenetic first half.

The Lions had been starved of Wallace’s services for the best part of six weeks before he was eased back into the side this month following constant speculation over a January exit.

Millwall resisted the temptation to cash in on their star man – and it’s easy to see why based on Wednesday night’s display.

Wallace may well walk away from the club for nothing in the summer when his deal is up, but in this form, he’s priceless to the Lions.

He was more than adequately supported by Bennett and Burey, with the latter finding the golden touch to keep his fairytale run going.

There was a time earlier in the season when Millwall didn’t look like scoring for love nor money – that doesn’t feel like the case now.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that the Lions have finally stumbled upon a winning formula up front when you consider that Millwall’s purple patch at the end of last season coincided with Bennett and Wallace striking up a potent partnership down the middle as auxiliary forwards..

And with Burey now thrown into the mix, all of a sudden, the Lions boast an attacking trio with the sprinkling of pace and power required to compromise some of the Championship’s top defences.

The biggest compliment you can pay Millwall’s new-look trifecta is that they didn’t have the look of a trio that had only mustered nine Championship goals between them this term.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if they bagged enough goals between them to double that tally by the end of the season if they continue in the same vein of form.

So often this season, just like last year, Millwall have lacked that little bit of extra quality in front of goal that’s been required to bridge the gap to the play-offs; unfortunately, that’s probably been amended a tad too late to gatecrash the promotion party this year.

The only concern is that Millwall haven’t exactly uncovered a long-term solution if Wallace does take his curtain call in May.

But that’s a problem for another day.

On the flip side, Burey is beginning to muscle in on some of that limelight himself.

Burey has shown glimpses of his talent during some eye-catching cameo roles, but he was handed a fresh challenge after being thrust into the starting line-up for the first time.

It was a test that he passed with flying colours.

But it would have been very easy for the former AFC Wimbledon youngster’s head to drop after he spurned a gilt-edged chance from the edge of the box from Wallace’s inch-perfect cut-back.

However, he showed real character to pick himself up to seal the points for the Londoners just minutes later – there was no chance he was missing the second time around.

It’s already abundantly clear that he’s in for a big season next year after playing himself into contention over the past few weeks.

Millwall could – and probably should – have had more than just the two goals for their trouble due to the constant threat they posed on the break.

Even though Derby improved after the break, the Lions were still in cruise control; Bart Bialkowski was hardly troubled all evening.

Only a wild swipe from Jake Cooper prevented the Lions from recording the clean sheet that they richly deserved.

It’s now nine points from nine for the Lions, which is some achievement when you take into account the constant stream of injuries that have plagued the side in recent weeks.

Anyone associated with Millwall knows that these kinds of weeks don’t come around very often.

Everyone to a man deserves credit for that during what’s been a challenging period for the club.

Rather than fading into obscurity over the final weeks of the season, the Lions have hinted in recent weeks that they can still finish the campaign with a flurry.

Although the play-offs are out of reach, a third top-ten finish in five years would be some achievement if Millwall can sustain their recent upturn in form.

And perhaps it would arguably be a bigger achievement than last year when you take into account the issues that Rowett’s men have had to contend with since the turn of the year.

STAR MAN

Jed Wallace. The Lions star man was back to his best with a dynamite display.

BEST MOMENT

Mason Bennett’s outrageous run down the left that led to Tyler Burey’s goal. The former Ram ran his team-mates ragged.

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