Millwall knock out Villa with late Marquis strike
A late John Marquis goal sent Millwall through in the FA Cup against an under-pressure Aston Villa side.
The Premier League visitors created little in the closely fought match, with Millwall worthy of their victory as they came from behind to win 2-1.
Vila, eyeing next Wednesday's six-pointer against Newcastle, rested Christian Benteke and brought Darren Bent into the front line in a move that would be pivotal in the opening goal.
Andreas Weimann picked up the ball at the half-way line and ran with it. After sidestepping Danny Shittu he fired in a shot which was pushed out by David Forde, but it fell to the feet of Bent whose miss-kick somehow found its way into the net to put Villa ahead with 22 minutes gone.
In response, Liam Feeney struck straight at Shay Given from distance while Shittu's header from a corner landed on the roof of the net.
That effort proved to be just target practice for the big defender who made up for his earlier defensive lapse by superbly nodding a James Henry corner inside the far-post for the equaliser on 27 minutes.
Villa were playing with fear after that, highlighting their precarious position in the top flight, and Millwall nearly capitalised before the break when Adam Smith rifled in a long range effort which Given was equal too.
The second-half began in quiet fashion until the linesman - following one contentious decision too many - was forced to run on the pitch after plastic bottles were thrown at him from the Dockers Stand.
After a short break the game restarted, but both sides struggled to take the upper hand.
Henry's quality was shining through, however, and his deft lob 15 minutes into the second period nearly caught Given off guard but the keeper managed to catch it.
While Millwall's lack of strength up-front, without the now departed Chris Wood and, more recently Darius Henderson, was apparent, Villa also offered little in the final third highlighted when Bent miss-controlled a through ball.
And that was all the Premier side offered in the first 25 minutes of the second half.
When Villa did manage to get the ball forward, Shittu was always on hand to snuff out the danger.
A long-range effort from substitute Barry Bannan broke the Villa ceasefire but Forde palmed the ball away.
With the game seemingly petering out for a draw Millwall snatched it.
Marquis, who had struggled to make an impact on the match in his return to first team football, suddenly sprang into life.
With just a minute left of normal time, he leapt to head a Smith cross onto the bar via a touch from Given.
And, while the defence stood static, Marquis nodded the rebounding ball into the empty net.
The Lions held on through six minutes of injury-time for a deserved win to become the first team in this year's FA Cup fifth round draw.
Afterwards, manager Kenny Jackett praised his Millwall side.
"We persevered," he said. "We did well to come back from an early goal, then got a goal back form a set piece which we've been poor on this season.
"Then we got the late goal. After a terrific save from Given, John did well to get on to the rebound.
"It was a great night. A great atmosphere from the crowd, the way they drove us on. The link between the players and the crowd was excellent."
When questioned about the incident when the linesman came under fire in the second-half - following which three arrests were made - Jackett said: "We cant condone it. It's disappointing but on the plus side the support was outstanding.
"It's been a great night beating a team the size of Aston Villa and the fans played a big part In that."
Villa boss Paul Lambert said he felt his side were unfortunate.
"I don't think we deserved to lose it," he said. "I didn't see that coming, but saying that when you go one up and concede a goal from a bog-standard corner that's not good enough."
When questioned about the club's poor run, he said: "There are two ways to deal with it. Accept it or come out fighting and I'll keep fighting."