Match 35
13th February 2010
Millwall (Away)

City Match Report

Pete Evans reports from The New Den

Millwall 1 Exeter City 0
Saturday 13th February 2010

On the eve of the most romantic day in the calendar there was nothing heart-warming or pretty about this scrappy and ugly encounter in South Bermandsey. Andy Marriott was arguably the only person in the New Den showing any respect towards St Valentine in sporting his electric pink goalkeeping kit. And Exeter's number one was determined not to give any early gifts to the dangerous Millwall frontline with two superb saves. (And that's quite enough of the Valentines puns!) There was only three minutes on the clock Alan Dunne swung in a cross and Steve Morison sent in a header destined for the top corner until City's 39-year-old keeper intervened and tipped it over the bar.

Then from the resulting corner Marriott rolled back the years again with a marvellous save from Shaun Batt's headed effort and he would go on to put in one of the best performances of his Exeter career during the remaining 84 minutes. Adam Stansfield was ruled out for a month the previous Thursday after requiring minor surgery and his replacement was Marcus Stewart who lined up on the left-hand side of City's attack but his afternoon barely got started. First he appeared to pick up a cut and had to leave the pitch to receive treatment from the Exeter medical teamThen shortly after re-entering the pitch he picked up a recurrence of his hamstring injury he suffered two weeks ago. Paul Tisdale sent Bertie Cozic on in place of the experienced Stewart, who joins the worrying list of out of action strikers at the club. Marriott was then called into action again on two occasions to deny left-winger Batt. Tisdale's game plan seemed to be working and while the away side were soaking up the pressure and keeping the Lions at bay they were offering little going forward with Barry Corr quite isolated as the lone-frontman. Liam Sercombe had City's first real effort on 40 minutes but his long-shot was straight at former Cardiff keeper David Forde. The 677 travelling supporters in the upper tier behind the goal didn't have much to shout about in the first half but they would have been boosted by a solid defensive display. Cozic created City's first real opening of the second period with a trademark forward run but he could only scuff a shot at Forde. Morison was a familiar face to many of the travelling fans after appearing against the Grecians on many occasions for previous club Stevenage Borough and he fired over on 47 minutes before his header was kept out again by Marriott. There are moments in games when a shot heads towards goal and you just assume the opposition have scored and are stunned when the ball somehow stays out. And City's man of the match. Marriott provided one of those on 55 minutes when he somehow kept out Batt's effort on the line. A Paul Tisdale substitution then, as so often has been the case down the years, helped swing the game in his side's favour as Stuart Fleetwood triggered a dangerous spell. His first participation came when he was involved in a footrace with a Millwall centre-back and his ball in looked to have been handled. The Welshman then had a trio of chances that could have broken the deadlockAnd although he couldn't test Forde he was providing some impetus in the final third. The first chance was created himself, when he turned and sent an ambitious chip over the bar and minutes later he latched onto a lofted pass from Ryan Harley but shot wide. Millwall were denied three points earlier this season at The Park thanks to a Adam Stansfield cross-shot that looped in at the far post and Fleetwood almost pulled off a carbon-copy but his shot dropped just wide. That man Marriott again denied Morison soon after when he showed unbelievably reflexes at the far post but the Welshman was finally beaten on 81 minutes. The imperious Matt Taylor seemed to have legitimately won the ball off Spurs loanee Jon Obika on the edge of the City box but referee Phil Gibbs, who sent off Dan Seaborne on Boxing Day 2007 against Torquay, awarded Millwall a free-kick and booked the bemused skipper. And predictably Harris, on his 300th appearance for the Lions, stepped up to curl a stunning 20-yard effort past the diving Marriott. It was a cruel blow. City's backline didn't deserve to be on the losing side after putting in a tremendous shift.

But there was still time for a comebackRichard Logan was introduced as City looked to get another late equaliser like we'd seen in recent weeks. Those hopes soon evaporated when the Grecians were reduced to ten men on 88 minutesCorr had suffered a frustrating afternoon with many decisions not going his way and his late, high and ugly tackle on Dunne down on the touchline seemed borne out of this frustration. After handing out a few bookings in the previous minutes Gibbs was quick to send the Irishman for his third early bath of the season and his subsequent suspension means it will be a long time before he will be able to pull on a red and white shirt again."

Millwall 13/2/2010

Lost 1-0

Attendance: 9104

Match day by Kirstie Bowden. 

"There's Oliver Cromwell". Not the opening for my Millwall match report I had ever expected but there you go, as ever with supporting City expect the unexpected! Our bus had been crawling through central London for over an hour and we had finally reached the dizzy heights of Parliament square. It was here that we indeed saw Oliver Cromwell, Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela (well, statues of them) and inadvertently joined a protest for Gaza. Crossing the Thames, with the temperature of the bus likened by Julian to that of Barbados, we put in a request to turn the heating down. The response from the drivers filtered slowly back to us but it appeared lost in translation when a woman told us to "open the emergency skylarks". They stayed shut and we continued melting.

After sampling the splendour of Kensington and Chelsea the other side of the river proved disappointing. It was a case of, quoting a passenger who will remain nameless, "affluent to effluent". Before we knew it we had arrived at our destination. Our bus stopped outside the social club to check where to park. Hordes of Millwall fans piled out of the club and stood staring at us. Seeking to escape their intimidating glares I turned to look out my window. Not much more luck on that side. Here a load of kids were gesturing at us! Not before time the bus moved onto its parking place, a fenced compound lined with stewards. Once all the away buses were in the gates were locked! And to think, a few years ago we were parking on a playing field at Farsley Celtic......

A series of gates and lines of stewards, police and police horses prevented the home fans from straying into our paths but that did not stop an unusually large number of fans seeking to enter the away end as soon as the gates opened. Once inside it was up flights of stairs to reach the upper terrace. Having three learnt from my mistake at Brentford last season I sat not in the vertigo inducing front row but a few rows back. After what felt like a very cold eternity (the gates had opened at 1.30pm) the teams came out onto the pitch. Merely minutes into the game Andy Marriott (who received a barrage of wolf whistles everytime he was in possession of the ball thanks to his brilliant florescent pink kit) had pulled off a superb double save. Apart from their wolf whistling the Millwall fans were quiet. When Marcus Stewart was receiving treatment for an injury the away end goaded the home fans (possibly not the best strategy given their reputation!) with chants of "you're not scary anymore" and "more scared at Torquay, we were more scared at Torquay".

As the game progressed although we were struggling to create any decent chances with Marriott at the helm Millwall appeared destined not to score. The arrival of Fleetwood onto the pitch in the second half brought great hope and during a spirited spell we came incredibly close to taking the lead. Unfortunately it was Millwall and not us that took the lead. They were awarded a free-kick which looked dubious to the City fans who by this point in the game had little faith left in the referee who had been inconsistent at best. It says a lot when both fans deploy the "you don't know what you' re doing" chant. Waiting for the ref to sort out the wall, which took some time, I had a sinking feeling. I just knew where it was going to end up. Sure enough it flew into the back of the net and The Den roared.

The game continued to go downhill when with mere minutes left Barry Corr was sent off for a stupid challenge. To say I was livid was an understatement. Three red cards in less than one season is nothing short of despicable and not the sort of behaviour we want to see from someone wearing our beloved red and white. Moving swiftly on, we safely escaped Millwall with just a repeated death threat from a gesturing juvenile who followed our bus!

Given the epic level of performance given by one person in particular at Millwall there is only one way I can end this article and that is by dedicating it to Andy Marriott. What a performance. He is a man that fully deserves to wear the red and white, or in his case, florescent pink!



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