TWO games into the Championship campaign and it is clear to see Wanderers have lost none of their promotion spirit.

Though sloppy early on against Leeds they recovered sufficiently to learn a lesson. Here, across from the Isle of Dogs, the Whites again showed bite when they needed it.

Filipe Morais injected a moment of class to an otherwise workmanlike 90 minutes, curling an unstoppable free-kick into the top corner to cancel out George Saville’s earlier effort.

What was admirable, however, was the resolve Wanderers showed to protect their point in a hostile environment which will claim more than its fair share of victims this season.

Mark Beevers cleared one off the line and then appeared from nowhere to block a goal-bound volley from Steve Morison a few minutes from time which would surely have been the winner.

On-loan youngster Reece Burke overcame a bout of illness to put in a mature display at the heart of the defence, his pace and reading of the game standing out in his first full start.

And fellow Hammers academy graduate Josh Cullen showed he has bought immediately into Phil Parkinson’s endeavour-heavy philosophy now looking right at home in the Championship after two seasons with Bradford City.

Some had billed a trip to The Den as a must-win, perhaps with one eye on a tough month of fixtures ahead. Such statements seem premature and even a tad disrespectful to a Millwall side who will be hard to beat on home turf, as ever.

A point is definitely no catastrophe, particularly if the Whites can follow it up with a similarly obstinate display at Birmingham tomorrow night.

Wanderers have areas to work on, particularly in possession. For spells of the first half Parkinson’s side invited pressure on themselves by flinging seemingly aimless high balls up towards Gary Madine and Adam Le Fondre – both of whom cut frustrated figures for much of the game. Once Jem Karacan and Cullen established some order in the middle of the park, the afternoon immediately became more comfortable.

Cullen’s tracking back was good to see and one sliding challenge on Jed Wallace inside the penalty box brought a deserved ovation from the Bolton fans behind the goal.

Burke wasn’t to be outdone and though he had fallen ill on the day his speed of thought prevented any great drama in the Wanderers box in a tight and competitive first half.

Millwall’s goal came quickly after the restart and completely changed the complexion of the afternoon. Saville latched on to a great touch from Morison but then got lucky as his shot deflected past Mark Howard.

The game immediately sprung to life only Beevers’ good positioning on the line prevented Morison from making it two with a bouncing shot.

Wanderers called on Morais to add a bit more attacking impetus on the right and instantly he created a chance Adam Le Fondre should have buried from six yards out.

It proved to be a fruitless afternoon for Le Fondre, who was replaced by Adam Armstrong, but not before Morais had curled a brilliant free kick into the top corner to level the scores.

The man they call “The Postman” returned from injury against Crewe in midweek and created a goal for Derik Osede but is still a little way off full fitness.

Parkinson may have to use the winger sparingly to ensure no further problems with his knee but Morais just continues to come up with the goods – this his third goal in the last 15 games, which have also included 13 assists.

There was little Archer could do but watch as his right-footed shot landed on the proverbial postage stamp in the top corner, picked up by the many camera phones in the stand behind the goal.

Millwall had the better chances to win the game but Wanderers gave the impression they would not surrender the point.

Beevers made one heroic block six yards out as Morison crashed a stinging volley towards goal and Morais also showed his defensive skills with another important challenge on the edge of the box.

Parkinson had asked his side to rediscover the away day mentality they had last season and the players responded in kind. Having watched them freeze in front of the TV cameras in the first half against Leeds last weekend, this was a step in the right direction.

“We felt against Leeds we lacked that extra yard and the commitment to stop the cross or prevent the goal wasn’t quite there,” Parkinson said.

“All the qualities we had last year we have got to have again, and more.

“That was back to how we can defend, put bodies on the line, and when you look around the dressing room you see a team that has given their all.”

When stripped back, Wanderers’ promotion last season was all about character and that is the obvious starting point if Parkinson is going to pull off another coup and keep them in the Championship.

His side have heart – and if players like Morais can keep popping up with fragments of quality then survival will be achievable.













Subs: Morais 7, 53 (for Little), Armstrong 6, 69 (for Le Fondre), Wilbraham 83 (for Madine).

Not used: Alnwick, Robinson, Derik, Buckley.

STAR MAN: Reece Burke

Millwall (4-4-2): Archer; McLaughlin, Hutchinson, Webester, Meredith; Saville, Ferguson, Williams, Wallace; Morison, Gregory.

Subs: Onyedimna 77 (for Ferguson), Elliott 82 (for Gregory).

Not used: King, Craig, Worrall, Thompson, Cooper.


Millwall Wanderers

53% Possession 47%

8 Shots on target 2

6 Shots off target 3

4 Corners 0

14 Fouls against 16

3 Offsides 1

Booked: Millwall – McLaughlin, Hutchinson; Wanderers – Burke, Karacan, Taylor.

Sent off: None.

Referee: Andy Davies (Wiltshire).

Goals: Millwall – Saville 49; Wanderers – Morais 62.

Entertainment 7

Atmosphere 7