Millwall wasted their chance to gain ground on sixth placed Cardiff City as they slipped to a turgid 0-2 defeat against Neil Warnock’s Middlesbrough.

The win sees the away side move out the relegation zone, but questions will be asked of a Millwall side who turned out one of their worst display’s since Gary Rowett took over at the Den.

Millwall fans would have been delighted to see the return of Ben Thompson, starting his first game for the Lions since December, with Shaun Williams also returning to the side. There were three changes for the visitors after their 0-1 loss to QPR last weekend, with Ryan Shotton, Djed Spence and Paddy McNair returning to the line-up.

Both sides were looking for a big three points in their battles for promotion and relegation. It was a physical and direct start to the game, as was to be expect, Millwall looking to hit Matt Smith early, with Jed Wallace and Thompson playing close to the big man.

It was Thompson who provided the early excitement for the home side. He looked sharp on his return to the first XI and had a couple of efforts blocked as he broke into the Boro box.

Boro came into the game as Millwall struggled to get any control. Dangerous deliveries from Marvin Johnson and Spence were crying out for a touch that wasn’t forthcoming.

Neil Warnock’s side continued to ask questions of Millwall, growing into the game. The Lions looked lacklustre, missing the composure and cutting edge they showed glimpses of last Friday at The Valley.

McNair had the best chance of the half, but the Northern Irishman’s powerfully driven free kick was pushed over the bar by Bartosz Bialkowski shortly before the break.

The Boro midfielder should have given his side the lead in the first minute of the second half but he put Johnson’s cutback well over the bar from eight yards out.

Gary Rowett will have got into his side at half time, but it was to no effect. Millwall continued to lack ideas and quality on the ball, struggling to get into Boro’s half in the early stages of the second half.

Connor Mahoney almost made an instant impact off the bench, as his cross was met but Smith bu Dejan Stojanovic was equal to it.

Mahoney continued to look bright, forcing the Boro stopper into another save on the 65th minute, cutting inside from the left, much like he did last Friday against Charlton.

However, it was the visitors who took the lead on the counter. Jake Cooper looked like he had been tripped by Ashley Fletcher, but referee Tim Robinson waved play on, sending Boro clean through two on one.

Fletcher put the ball on a plate for Britt Assombalonga, who comfortably slotted past Bialkowski.

The Millwall players could not believe the decision but had to react positively if they were to keep their play-off hopes alive.

Jed Wallace went close on 76 minutes and Millwall sought an equaliser, his volley just wide of Stojanovic’s post.

Despite the changes, Millwall continued to struggle. Boro doubled their lead from the spot after Cooper clumsily brought down Fletcher as the striker was through on goal.

Fletcher stepped up and calmly dispatched the spot kick straight down the middle, sealing the three points for the away side.

Nothing Millwall did today seemed to work, Rowett will be furious with a very poor display from his side. Controversy over the first goal aside, Millwall did nothing to deserve the three points.


Millwall: Bialkowski; Romeo (Mitchell 82), Hutchinson, Pearce (Mahoney 62), Cooper, M. Wallace (Ferguso 82); Williams (Molumby 62), Woods, Thompson (Bradshaw 62); J. Wallace, Smith.

Subs: Steele, Skalak, Burey, Leonard.

Middlesbrough: Stojanovic; Spence (Dijksteel 82), Shotton, Fry, Friend; Johnson, Howson, Saville, McNair (Clayton 82); Fletcher, Assombalonga (Tavernier 78).

Subs: Pears, Moukoudi, Roberts, Nmecha, Wing, Coulson.