Negative reporting can't detract from memorable Millwall win over Villa

News Shopper: Millwall fans celebrate at the final whistle last Friday. PICTURE BY EDMUND BOYDEN. Millwall fans celebrate at the final whistle last Friday. PICTURE BY EDMUND BOYDEN.

SOME sensationalist reporting about the bottle throwing incident aside, Lions columnist MATT LITTLE is still reflecting in the glory of last Friday’s memorable 2-1 win for Millwall over Aston Villa.

IT’S not like me to not bother checking on how the mighty Lions are fairing, but last night I already knew the outcome of the game at Barnsley without the need to spend half the evening listening to the radio updates.

Away at some grim northern backwater on a cold, windy Tuesday night against a struggling team after a fine giant killing on a rocking night at The Den equals a home banker every day of the year.

And so it proved to be with the Lions limping home with their tails between their legs after an insipid 2-0 defeat to crack Yorkshire outfit Barnsley.

I feel sorry the few Millwall fans who bothered going, credit where credit is due, but seriously there must be a better way of spending your winter evenings.

A Miranda box-set marathon perhaps? (Give me a trip to Barnsley over Miranda every night of the week – sports ed)

It's amazing to think we are still only six points off sixth place but that is just how inconsistent this division is.

Yet I think my enthusiasm waned for a serious play-off push the day the music died ie when Chris Wood elected to become a Fox rather than a Lion.

However, the addition of Rob Hulse to the ranks has given us a glimmer of hope if he can remain fit.

The Queens Park Rangers striker was put in the shop window via a loan spell at Charlton Athletic and the club swooped for a player Kenny Jackett has long admired.

It's an interesting bit of business, with the club offloading the considerable wages of injury prone Darius Henderson and taking a gamble on Hulse, keeping us competitive while we give ourselves six months to unearth another goal-scoring gem.

A strike pairing of Andy Keogh and Hulse could prove to be quite exciting if they click, with the former's skill and vision complimented by the latter's strength and hard-work.

They're certainly good enough for a top half finish and a decent cup run, and to be honest that's a good enough step in the right direction for me.

Ah, talking of the magic of the cup...Friday was one of those special nights down at The Den.

Make no mistake, Aston Villa came to The Den as the fifth highest spenders in English football and with a pedigree as one of the country's most decorated clubs, yet they were humbled by a hardworking Millwall side and subdued by a vociferous home crowd.

Although the atmosphere inside The Den wasn't quite up to the bear-pit standards set at previous night time games against the likes of Manchester City and Wolves, it was partisan enough for Villa fans in attendance, and the likes of the Telegraph's Henry Winter, to rave about the noise and tremendous support generated by south London's finest.

Winter also sprang another surprise by reporting on the regrettable bottle throwing incident in a very matter-of-fact way, even going to the effort to point out that the rest of the 15,000 plus crowd booed in unison at the actions of these few idiots.

We are big enough and ugly enough to take criticism down at Cold Blow Lane.

It's the hysterical, sensationalist nonsense we can't stand.

However, I sense a change in how most of the media go about reporting incidents at The Den these days and the Telegraph's report was the latest example of this.

Yes, we still get far more intense coverage than any other club.

But it seems to be much more measured these days, rather than the 'someone could have died' or the 'Den of Hate' headlines of the past - for anything from a meat pie being thrown on to the pitch to a handful of kids celebrating a goal on the sidelines.

Perhaps this is because people are finally starting to recognise the amount of hard work that goes on SE16 or the fact that the majority of Millwall fans condemn this behaviour, rather than revel in it.

The excellent book 'Family' by Michael Calvin has certainly shown the club in a different light to outsiders.

In fact, the only really over the top reactions I came across were in the Daily Mail and from a few Charlton fans and oddballs on Twitter.

Luckily no one really takes the rantings of 'angry of Royal Tunbridge Wells' seriously these days.

Adrian Chiles did have a strange turn on ITV's FA Cup programme when reviewing our match, according to him this was the first hint of trouble at a football match since the 1970s.

Then again if I'd blown my chances with the lovely Christine Bleakley and failed to replace Eamonn Holmes as the face of ITV I'd try to wipe my memory too.

I wonder if the FA will prove to be as forgetful?

They've said they will investigate the incident, which is fair enough.

However, they still need to deal with Manchester City after former England captain, Rio Ferdinand, was cut so badly by coins thrown by City fans that he had to leave the field covered in blood, plus Sheffield Wednesday after their stewards allowed Leeds fans to attack their keeper unopposed.

On a serious note, though, I hope the FA can look at our case objectively, as hands up we do have previous, but we are taking every step possible and sometimes it's hard to legislate for the actions of individuals.

It would be a shame to sour what could be another excellent cup run.

Our reward for dumping out a hapless Aston Villa was to get the only non-league side left in the draw, although one with plenty of league and cup history in Luton Town.

I'd imagine the club will be taking this tie very seriously, as progress to the quarter-finals will almost certainly be a win-win situation for Millwall.

There is an opportunity to either draw a very big club in a money-spinning tie or a beatable club, therefore gaining a shot at a semi-final place and a third trip to Wembley in four years.

Anyway, it's back to the league on Saturday and I have no choice but to watch the action unfold in front of me.

Happily, though, a jumped up ex-Premier League club flying high and fancying their chances at The Den usually proves to be another home banker.

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