We’re on our way to Wembley – after 180 minutes against Oxford United first, of course. A 2-0 win at Roots Hall against Southend United in the Johnstone’s Paint Area Semi-final on Tuesday night was what we deserved after a gutsy display.
We were the better side and tried to play more football than the Essex side especially in the second half. Although that said, we still needed a few smart stops from goalkeeper Jordan Archer.
Archer has taken his chance in the first team this season and has put in some great displays, especially in the last month. He is so far ahead of Irish international goalkeeper David Forde currently that he is looking like a future star in the game at the highest level.
At Southend, the Lions were backed by more than 1,500 vociferous supporters in what is supposed to be the smallest cup competition we compete in. The passion in the stands translated to the team on the pitch. We scored two goals from cracking strikes by Steve Morison and Shaun Williams.
That vibrant display was a good answer to Saturday’s meek FA Cup exit at the hands of Wycombe Wanderers.
Wycombe came to bully us and they did just that. Some of their tactics were bordering on unsavoury, but were to be expected from their manager, Gareth Ainsworth.
We needed a stronger, more physical performance from our team and the same from the referee and his assistants but we got neither.
Manager Neil Harris spotted this and expressed it to the team at half time and we saw a better second half but still it was not enough. With the small crowd in The Den a cup match like that feels more like a pre-season friendly, a stark contrast to Roots Hall.
The only player to come out with any credit from the defeat was 20-year-old Ben Thompson. He got his first senior goal of his career and competed well in the midfielder often winning headers against taller players. Boyhood Millwall supporter Thompson signed a contract extension last week which runs until summer 2017. Like Jordan Archer, he looks like a real asset.
It’s a shame we exited the FA Cup at this stage as Wycombe’s prize was a home draw against Aston Villa. That would have raised some gate money and given us chance to progress against the Premier League strugglers. But we won’t be greedy and will gladly take progress is the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
Next up Oldham away (Sat, 3pm).
Ian Toal is a committee member at Millwall Supporters Club