Town v Millwall
Whatever happened at The New Den, the Leeds United result ultimately would determine which team was promoted. For a few moments after Leeds had gone down to 10 men it seemed the impossible may happen and Rovers may defeat Leeds or at least hold them to a draw. Shortly after half time news of Rovers going 1-0 up fed through to both sets of jubilant supporters at the New Den as well as Town fans, including me, back watching the game on the screens in the Winners Lounge at The County Ground. But then, as unfortunately expected, Leeds fought back to claim their elusive promotion to the second tier with a 2-1 win with goals from Howson and Beckford. At the final whistle Leeds fans celebrated as if they’d won the Premier League.
Anyway, back to the Town game. Swindon started brightly with a cracking goal from Danny Ward. Jonathan Douglas hit a free kick into the box which was cleared by Robinson and fell to Ward on the edge of the box, who hit a quick first time volley to flash the ball past Forde in the Millwall goal. Douglas was soon involved again. He made a clumsy and unnecessary challenge on Bett in the box, leaving the referee with no decision but to award a penalty, which was slotted home by Morison. So for 11 minutes Town had been sitting 2nd, but now 5th as Charlton were winning at Oldham, showing how tight it was.
Millwall took the lead after 65 minutes after Steve Morison broke down the right and Jean-Francois failed to close him down. Without any pressure his cross into the box should have been cleared by Lucas, only for Greer, who was wrong footed and unexpected the ball to escape Lucas, diverted the ball into his own net. It appeared that if Greer hadn’t cleared Millwall players were well placed to have got a shot on an unguarded goal anyway so I’m finding it hard to put any blame on Greer.
Morison got his second of the game and Millwall’s third ten minutes later. A lofted ball over the high Town defence caught the back line out of position, allowing Morrison to take aim with a early and speculative half volley which took a slight deflection off the arm of Greer and looped over a helpless Lucas into the net. Game over for Town.
Before the Paynter header to make it 3-2 from a Sheeham free kick, there were two chances for Paynter and Austin, who both missed excellent chances from close range. A few weeks ago our luck would have been going our way and these relatively simple chances converted.
Towards the end the Town players looked exhausted and resigned to losing the game, with knowledge of the Leeds’ winning scoreline they had given up all hope.
With promotion yesterday a possibility, I couldn’t hide my disappointment at the final whistle that we missed out. But my disappointment is tinged with relief as Leeds won, making our result irrelevant. To put it all in perspective I have to keep reminding myself that automatic promotion didn’t even enter my thoughts pre-season and for most of the season. In reality the 5th place and play-off finish justifies the progress we have made this season under Wilson, who confirmed post-match that all along the club’s ambition was to surprise everyone this season and secure the play-off place. So job done.. so far.
So it is Charlton Athletic who come at the County Ground on Friday night for the first leg of the semi-finals. Ever since the play-offs have been a distinct possibility I’ve always preferred meeting Charlton in the semi-finals. We’ve dominated both games against them this season and only 2 late goals sealed unlikely draws for Charlton.
Our form going into the play-offs is far from ideal, but I’ll post more on the form guide and wider play-off picture later in the week.
The season continues……