Report: Millwall 1-1 Bolton
Despite a valiant effort in south east London, Bolton Wanderers were forced to settle for a share of the spoils in a closely contest affair at The New Den.
It was very much a story of what might have been for the Trotters, who when a goal to the good spurned the opportunity to wrap up the points from the penalty spot midway through the second period.
Lukas Jutkiewicz, such an effective focal point throughout the piece, saw his penalty saved after having opened the scoring with a clever header in the first half.
Instead Millwall claimed a point when Martyn Woolford popped up to level the scores .
The Bolton team showed two changes to the side that had taken to the field four days earlier against Burnley.
Mark Davies and Darren Pratley came in for Chung-Yong Lee and Liam Trotter, who was as part of the loan agreement between the two sides was ineligible.
Millwall’s side contained ex-Bolton centre-half Danny Shittu, whilst former loanee Liam Feeney was on the bench.
The opening ten minutes were disjointed, with the home side making the early running.
Matt Mills and Pratley had to be alert to snuff out a couple of potentially dangerous attacked, with the only goalbound attempt of note looping wide from Jermaine Easter.
With 15 minutes on the clock, and with their first attempt on target, Bolton broke the deadlock.
Chris Eagles swung a teasing ball into the Millwall area, where Jutkiewicz stooped to flick a back header beyond David Forde’s despairing dive and into the net via the base of the post.
Ian Holloway’s side continued to endeavour with a patient, passing style, however a strong prevailing wind almost aided an equaliser.
On the line, David Wheater’s somehow managed to divert Martyn Woolford’s shot on the spin over the bar, after a ball into box had caught on the wind.
The home side were looking lively.
Another goal-line clearance, this time from Alex Baptiste, prevented Easter from converting from just inside the area following Adam Bogdan’s punched clearance.
Jutkiewucz continued to lead the line in admirable fashion, holding the ball up well both aerially and on the floor.
In the run up to the break Lee Martin saw a shot from Steve Morison’s knock down fade away from the post.
The second half started as the first ended – Millwall seeing plenty of the ball but unable to really work Bogdan.
Instead, on a rare foray forward, Bolton came within a whisker of doubling their tally.
Mark Davies was scythed down 25 yards from goal, with Eagles then curling the resulting free-kick around the wall and into the foot of the post.
In need of a goal, Holloway gambled with a triple substitution on 55 minutes, introducing three strikers.
Though those changes didn’t necessarily have the immediate impact the increasingly agitated home fans would have hoped.
Bolton continued to absorb pressure and look a threat on the break.
On 66 minutes Baptiste broke forward from full-back, played a neat give-and-go with Pratley before coolly finishing below Forde. However, celebrations were cut short by the linesman’s offside flag on the far side.
The hosts reverted to plan B, bypassing the midfield and pumping balls into the Bolton penalty area.
And that almost paid dividends when Woolford crashed a loose ball towards the near post, with Bogdan reacted superbly to fist away. Scott Malone volleyed the follow up wide.
Wanderers were edging ever closer to three vital points and on 76 minutes they had the chance to put the game to bed.
Jutkiewicz once again demonstrated some superb back-to-goal play, before seeing his swirling cross clip the hand of Shittu at the back post. Referee Simon Hooper pointed to the spot.
Jutkiewicz immediately sought out the ball, though his tame kick from 12 yards was comfortably gathered by Forde.
That buoyed the hosts and suddenly they seized the initiative and netted the equaliser on 82 minutes.
Morison’s teasing centre was met by sub Simeon Jackson, who from point blank range was denied by a superb save from Bogdan. However the rebounds fell kindly to Woolford who dispatched from a seemingly impossible angle.
Neither side looked happy to settle for a point, but that was the ultimate outcome.