Millwall roar back to claim point

Last updated : 29 September 2003 By Neil Andrews
Wise: Man of the Match
It was honours even as West Ham hung on the claim a draw against a Millwall side that threatened to run rampant in the second half of a pulsating derby clash at Upton Park.

Tim Cahill sent Millwall's travelling support home happy with a 74th-minute equaliser after Irish international David Connolly had put The Hammers into an early lead in the First Half but both sides had chances to win the match. An it was only a combination of the woodwork and some excellent goalkeping from David James that prevented The Lions taking all three points.

Millwall started the game brightly and could have had a penalty in the opening minute when Ian Pearce - who would also go unpunished later on for rugby tackling Neil Harris - clipped the heels of Paul Ifill. Seven minutes later The Lions almost took the lead again when Bob Peeters exchanged passes with Ifill and picked out Cahill in the box only for James to somehow stretch a leg out and turn the ball around the post.

Having escaped an early setback, West Ham began pushing forward themselves and Tony Warner was forced into action to save from Neil Mellor, Matthew Etherington and Connolly, who had a free header from eight yards.

Minutes later, Connolly made amends when he broke free into the box and slotted the ball past Warner to put the East London side 1-0.

The Hammers then sat back and waited for the second goal to come and almost went two up when a poor back pass saw Tony Warner lobbed, only for Alan Dunne to clear off the line.

Millwall had chances of their own and after Pearce almost put on into his own net, Cahill was denied with a near-post header by the impressive James.

The turning point of the game came at half time when Mark McGhee decided to change things around. Neil Harris came on for the ineffective Andy Roberts while the inexperience Dunne was replaced by Matt Lawrence.

But the pair barely had time to get a touch of the ball before blasted a shot against the far post with Warner stranded.

This sparked the Lions into life and from then on it was pretty much one-way traffic as Millwall pressed for an equaliser. First Cahill was denied by James, who only got hold off his thundering shot at the second attempt, and then Harris saw an exquisite chip sail just over the bar.

Ifill then smacked one against the crossbar and Neil Harris really should have done better with the rebound with James stranded. But The Lions got their just desserts minutes later when Paul Ifill found Tim Cahill at the far post to head home.

Minutes later Ifill again let fly but this time the ball just skimmed past the post. Then Bob Peeters had a header cleared off the goalline whilst Harris saw his 85th-minute snap shot saved again by the busy James as Millwall looked the more likely of the two teams to grab a second goal.

Right at the death, Jermaine Defoe almost snatched an unlikely victory for the Hammers but elected to shoot when Connolly - umarked in the six yard box - was clearly the better option.

But it was Millwall who had the last word with a Dennis Wise freekick on the edge of the area which forced David James to make one final save.

Millwall Mad Ratings:
Tony Warner 8 - Impressive display - couldn't do much about the goal
Alan Dunne 6 - Tracked back well but a bit out of his depth
Tony Craig 6 - Good coming forward but still poor at the back
Tim Cahill 8 - A powerhouse performance from the Aussie midfielder
Stuart Nethercott 6 - An out of sorts performance
Darren Ward 8 - Tower of strenght at the back
Dennis Wise 9 - Man of the match and enjoyed himself on the pitch
David Livermore 7 - Poor first half but a superb second 45 minutes
Bob Peeters 6 - Got stronger as the game went on
Paul Ifill 8 - Ripped the Hammers apart in the Second Half
Andy Roberts 6 - Was lost on the right

Matt Lawrence 7 - Solid display, linking well with Ifill
Neil Harris 8 - Turned the game with an impressive display upfront