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Middlesbrough 1-2 Millwall
MILLWALL ended a run of five straight league defeats with victory at Middlesbrough this evening.
The Lions held a 2-0 interval advantage thanks to a 25th minute own goal from former Den loanee George Friend and 40th minute strike by Martyn Woolford.
Curtis Main halved the deficit with quarter of an hour remaining and Boro thought they had rescued a point deep into stoppage time when substitute Scott McDonald had the ball in the back of the net.
However, televised replays showed the assistant was correct to rule the effort out for offside to ensure Millwall made a welcome return to winning ways.
There were five changes from the Millwall side which started the 5-1 humiliation at The Den against Peterborough on Tuesday night.
Adam Smith, Liam Trotter and Andy Keogh were all dropped to the bench, Rob Hulse was unavailable through injury, while Shane Lowry was suspended after being sent off against Posh.
Skipper Danny Shittu made a welcome return from injury and there were also starts for Alan Dunne, Josh Wright, Woolford and John Marquis.
Marquis was unfortunate not to make a decent connection with the ball after strike partner Benik Afobe headed it into his path on eight minutes.
Karleigh Osborne picked up a yellow card for tripping Main just outside of the area but Grant Leadbitter’s free-kick went over the bar.
Millwall broke the deadlock on 25 minutes when James Henry’s long free-kick into the danger zone was headed home past Jason Steele by Friend under pressure from Marquis and Osborne.
Andre Bikey’s header from a corner was hacked away by Jimmy Abdou with Boro appealing for a penalty claiming the clearance had hit a Millwall hand in the box.
Leadbitter’s stinging low 25-yard drive was deflected behind and Millwall keeper David Forde had a lucky escape after making a complete hash of a cross, but thankfully for him Mark Beevers was able to put the ball behind.
The Lions doubled their advantage five minutes before the interval when Afobe got between Friend and Bikey before unleashing a shot which was pushed away by Steele, but only as far as Woolford at the back post, who fired the loose ball into the net from close range.
Boro were almost straight back in it when Nicky Bailey cross was glanced off target by the head of Main, with nobody able to connect with the loose ball inside the area.
Leadbitter’s 25 yard volley flew over in the 54th minute before substitute Ishmael Miller became the latest home player not to test Forde with a shot from the edge of the box that also went over the bar.
Forde made a good stop to push behind Mustapha Carayol’s low shot, his first real save of the game, before Osborne deflected Main’s effort behind for a corner as Boro continued to press.
Afobe burst into the box after shrugging off Friend in a rare Millwall second half attack on 68 minutes and was unlucky to drag his low shot just wide of the far post.
Henry fired into the side-netting and then Marquis failed to get enough power into his shot after being picked out by Henry’s pass.
Within seconds, Boro were right back in it when the hosts went straight up the other end when Main converted from close range after being picked out by Friend.
Forde prevented what would have been an instant equaliser by getting down low to keep out substitute McDonald’s shot from just outside of the area.
Main squandered a glorious opportunity to equalise in the 86th minute when his shot from 10 yards somehow went off target.
Afobe had a decent shout for a penalty ignored after appearing to be pushed over as he ran into the box.
Boro thought they had equalised in the fifth minute of stoppage time when Miller’s cross was tapped home by McDonald, but the replays showed McDonald was clearly in an offside position and the effort rightly didn’t count.
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Millwall: Forde, Dunne, Shittu, Beevers, Osborne, Henry, Abdou, Wright, Woolford, Marquis, Afobe. Subs not used: M Taylor, A Smith, Malone, Trotter, N'Guessan, Keogh, Tyson. Att: 15,377 (215 from Millwall).