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Millwall 3-1 Middlesbrough
AN Andy Keogh brace gave Millwall a deserved 3-1 win against Middlesbrough to push the Lions up the Championship table.
For 90 minutes, the former Leeds striker lead a three man attack remarkably well up against Boro’s Jonathan Woodgate and co in defence.
After last week’s loss against Sheffield Wednesday the Lions needed to get back to winning ways to ensure they keep themselves away from a relegation dog fight.
The first chance of the game fell to Ishmael Miller, who volleyed over a cross from the right – he should have done better.
But the Lions replied in the 10th minute when the ball fell kindly to Andy Keogh, who smashed it straight at keeper Jason Steele.
Millwall were hoping they were not going to rue the miss against a team, who have ambitions of a return to the top flight.
Leading the line for Boro was Miller and he had a small shout for a penalty in the 15th minute but referee Fred Graham told the 6ft 3’’ forward to get back up on his feet.
In possession the away side looked more assured but Henderson and ex-Leeds man Keogh linked up well together to give Millwall a chance of getting a goal up.
Not long afterwards a Jason Henry cross from the right was headed by Keogh against the post.
Keogh, who was on loan for much of last season, did exceptionally well to get in front of his marker to connect with ball.
It was the kind of tenacity that will endear him to his new supporters.
But half way through the first half Millwall were rewarded for having the better of the chances.
Skipper for the day Liam Trotter - for the injured Paul Robinson - stuck out his right leg and the ball flew into the top right.
The volley from outside the box was slightly fortuitous but take nothing away from Trotter – he did well to steer the ball to the goal.
Ten minutes later Millwall took a two-goal lead and the Den was rocking.
Keogh saw Henry’s shot ricochet back of post back to fall at his feet and he kept his composure to slot the ball home to put the home side two nil up.
Millwall’s front three were snaffling their chances, rewarding Kenny Jackett for his positive tactics.
Jackett in his programme notes admitted that he had struggled for a settled back four, this season, but he still persisted with an adventurous 4-3-3 formation for this game.
However, just before half time the away side were gifted a penalty and a lifeline back into the match.
Midfielder Jimmy Abdou clumsily challenged Friend inside the area to give the referee no choice but to put to the spot.
Abdou was awarded a yellow card for the tackle.
Last season’s top scorer Marvin Emnes took a long run and struck it into the corner.
A decisive spot-kick from the Dutch striker, who found the net 18 times last term.
It took until the 52nd minute for a chance to come after the break.
A scramble around the Middlesbrough goal saw a flurry of last ditch blocks but the managed clear their lines.
Millwall had their tails up still and were making Boro’s top players play well below par.
The pressure really showed when Chelsea loanee McEachran produced a rash challenge to earn a yellow card in the 51st minute.
Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo wants the youngster to regain top form before returning to Stamford Bridge but he looked far from his best today.
But momentum swung slightly for Boro close to the hour mark when 24-year-old Emanuel Jorge Ledesma come on for Merouane Zemmama.
Immediately afterwards Grant Leadbitter, an arrival from Ipswich, sting a shot just past Maik Taylor’s right-hand post.
The effort reminded the home side they had a long way to go before they could claim their second win of the season.
Yet, the Teesiders continued to probe but without much really substance.
While Millwall, for all their worth, would try and catch Boro on the counter-attack with Keogh racing forward with Shaun Batt in support.
It was an enticing battle but neither side were clinical enough to decide how the points were going to be shared with under ten minutes to go.
Until four minutes from time, Keogh diverted a Malone slide-rule pass into the gapping net – his second goal of the game.
It was a fantastic finish from the Republic of Ireland striker, who was a constant thorn in Middlesbrough’s side all afternoon.
Millwall will look to go on a run now with Cardiff City next up at home on September 18.
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Millwall: Taylor, Malone, Dunne, Osborne, Lowry, Abdou, Trotter, Wright, Keogh, Henry (Feeney 83), Henderson (Batt 46). Subs not used: Forde, Shittu, Racon, Marquis, Taylor. Att: 9,576