Millwall 0-1 Wednesday
The New Den
04/02/06 - 15:00
Wednesday returned from an intimidating atmosphere in Bermondsey with three vital points thanks to an amazing first goal from Frankie Simek.
The hosts thought they took the lead in the 62nd minute but the referee blew for a free-kick after makeshift goalkeeper Lee Bullen was fouled as the ball found the back of the net. While Millwall were still celebrating Wednesday took the ball down the other end and Frankie Simek scored his first goal for the club which sent the travelling Wednesday fans barmy.
Wednesday were dealt a blow before the match as Graham Coughlan was missing from the starting line-up with an injury. Lee Bullen replaced him in the centre of defence. Barry Corr was also given a chance upfront - probably to cope with the physical threat from the Lions. Marcus Tudgay was dropped to the bench, to sit alongside Steve Maclean who was in the Owls 16 for the first time this season after recovering from injury. Glenn Whelen returned to the starting line-up in place of John Hills who will be out for four weeks with a hamstring injury.
Millwall welcomed back midfield engine Jody Morris after suspension, but had former-Blades strikers Barry Hayles and Carl Asaba missing through injury. Berry Powel was to get his first start for the Lions after signing in the January transfer window.
Free-flowing football was never on the cards in this scrappy relegation six pointer, but that didn't stop the match being an entertaining affair with chances at both ends.
Dave Tuttle's men made the better start as Peter Gilbert blocked a fifth-minute Berry Powel shot. David Lucas then did well to stop a Marvin Elliott header five minutes later.
Wednesday got in the game though, and key man Chris Brunt had some half-chances to give the Owls the lead. Glenn Whelen broke free down the middle of the pitch and fed Brunt at the edge of the box, but his long-range effort went sailing over the bar. The Northern Irish international also had to efforts blocked by the Lions defence.
As Millwall struggled to create anything going forward, Wednesday grew in confidence and were pushing for the opening goal. Some neat interplay between Brunt and O'Brien fed Deon Burton who nsaw his shot blocked.
On 25 minutes Wednesday created the best chance of the game. Corr and Burton were linking well up front, and Andy Marshall did well in the Millwall goal to block a Corr effort. Marshall also held the rebound from Burton.
The game was to turn on it's head just before half-time though, as goalkeeper David Lucas was forced off with injury - with no 'keeper on the bench to replace him. Lucas went down when he punched a Milwall cross to safety. After minutes of treatment he tried to continue but collapsed in agony when making a save minutes later. Lee Bullen was put in goal for the remained of the match, with Drissa Diallo replacing Lucas and playing in centre defence. Bullen is well known to be a utility man for the Owls - but this was getting ridiculous.
Bullen came out at half-time to take some hints from goalkeeping coach Billy Mercer in front of the travelling Wednesday army. Cries of 'Scotland's number one' will have certainly lightened the spirit of the Owls club captain.
With Bullen in goal, the Wednesday fans and management alike would have expected a Millwall on slaught, but it never came about. Bullen only had one real save to make throughout the half, as the back four did tremendously well to protect his goal.
Instead, Wednesday were pushing the hosts in to their own half and looked the more likely to open the scoring. A Chris Brunt looping cross found the head of Deon Burton who's team effort landed at the hands of Marshall.
Bullen made a claim for a starting place in the Owls goal as the hosts troubled the Scot for the first time from a free-kick. Livermore curled an effort over the Wednesday wall from just outside the box, but Bullen scrambled to tip it over the bar.
The talking point of the game came in the 62nd minute. Craig's corner somehow found the back of the net after a swarm of players surrounded Bullen and obstructed his view. The Millwall players ran away in celebration, with the fans going barmy. Referee Steve Tanner blew for a free-kick though, and while the Millwall players and fans were still celebrating, a quick free-kick resulted in Frankie Simek being unmarked at the edge of the box to volley his first goal for the Owls and cap off a series of unbelievable events. The 1700 Wednesday fans went wild and the Millwall fans couldn't believe what happened.
Wednesday were now dominating play, and could have wrapped the game up through efforts by Brunt and Corr.
Deon Burton could, and should, have made it 2-0 when he was through on goal thanks to a Burton O'Brien ball, but his tame effort was easily saved by Marshall.
Millwall huffed and puffed during the final 15 minutes but they couldn't break down the stubborn Wednesday defence, and Lee Bullen wasn't tested in the Wednesday goal.
It just had to be, didn't it? In a scrappy affair no players really stood out, but Lee Bullen did well for the 50 minutes he was in goal. He was well protected by the Wednesday defence, but made a great save from a Livermore free-kick which kept Wednesday in the game.
Paul Sturrock told BBC Sport:
'Everyone else get excited when someone else goes in goal but often they are rarely tested.
'Now we are down to the bare bones again so I may have to have a word with my chairman.'
Dave Tuttle told BBC Sport:
'We didn't react quickly enough and they have scored.
'We've got to blame ourselves for conceding. We are all disappointed but we are not going to blame anyone for what has happened.'