Dave in doubt for top-notch Lions
by Brian Stater
TABLE-TOPPING Millwall could be without key defender Dave Cusack for tomorrow's Den clash with Bristol City.
The 28-year-old star centre-half is racing to shrug off a leg injury sustained in Tuesday's 2-0 victory over Lincoln, which established the Lions as Third Division leaders.
Manager George Graham has out-of-favour defender Micky Nutton on stand-by if Cusack fails to come through intensive treatment.
And Graham must make a decision on whether to bring back striker Dean Neal, who returned to training yesterday after missing three matches with the groin strain he suffered in the Milk Cup clash with Chelsea earlier this month.
Graham said, “I'll make a late decision on whether Dean plays, but the most likely out come is that he will be substitute if he comes through training with no problem.”
Free-scoring stand-in Steve Lovell will be out to boost his tally of 11 goals. Graham added, “We've all thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being top of the table. But there are still faults we must work on, particularly in the defence and midfield.”
“There are no really outstanding teams in the Third Division this season, so it's quite possible that the lead will switch from one club to another fairly regularly.”
Graham also revealed that a steady flow of enquiries has come in for his players since the start of the season.
He refused to name the men sparking the interest, but stressed, “I don't want to sell anyone.”
“I'm under no pressure to sell for financial reasons. The club is budgeted to operate on gates of 5,000, and we're exceeding that figure.”
“But the fact that other clubs are interested in our players shows the progress we've made. When I came here I found it almost impossible to sell anyone.”
Meanwhile midfield man Nicky Chatterton faces a further setback after missing five outings with a knee injury.
Chatterton makes a second trip to a specialist today after the injury failed to respond as quickly as the club originally hoped.
Teenage striker Teddy Sheringham hit both goals as the Lions reserves beat Portsmouth 2-0 at The Den on Tuesday.
But Graham warned that he can't expect an early first-team return, saying, “Sheringham has an awful lot of potential, but he is finding it difficult to bridge the gap between youth football and the full League game.”
● Bristol Rovers, Millwall's chasers in the Third Division race are at home to Hull tomorrow, while third placed York travel to Brentford.
● Cusack: Fitness race
Millwall (0) 1
Bristol City (0) 1
Millwall star Steve shuns the limelight
MODEST Steve Lovell may be banging in the goals that have taken Millwall to the top of the Third Division but he's refusing to claim all the credit.
The 24-year-old stand-in striker continued his goal spree with a late leveller that takes his tally to 12 this season.
Yet after Saturday's clash Lovell insisted that much of his success is down to Kevin Bremner, saying, “Kevin has helped me an awful lot. He gets through a tremendous amount of work”.
The gutsy Bremner has been enduring a lean spell, but refuses to shirk responsibility and Welsh international Lovell has clearly benefitted from the defensive attention Bremner has drawn away.
Fittingly, it was Bremner who set up Lovell for the best shot of an other- wise dour encounter.
With 65 minutes gone the battling Scot held off a fierce challenge, took the ball 20
yards and passed for Lovell to send a screaming 25-yard effort against a post. Amazingly, midfield man Alan McLeary managed to steer the rebound high over the bar from just six yards.
Three minutes later City took the lead, Trevor Morgan forcing the ball home after Andy Llewellyn had centred from an Alan Walsh free kick.
The Bristol side had lacked any attacking ambition and forced the game in to an untidy stalemate.
Lions chief George Graham sent on fit-again-striker Dean Neal to try to break the deadlock, but it was, Lovell who obliged with a fierce shot just three minutes from time.
Millwall: Sansome, Stevens , Roffey, Briley, Smith, Cusack, Lowndes, Bremner, McLeary (sub. Neal), Lovell, Otulakowski.
Bristol City: Shaw, Llewellyn , Newman, Curie, Phillipson-Masters, Riley, l Pritchard, Ritchie, Morgan, Walsh, Stroud.
Referee: B. Hill (Kettering)
● Top Steve Lovell fires in Millwall's goal
Above: Bremner puts in a block.
Millwall 1, Bristol City 1
MILLWALL lost the 100 per cent home record and were three minutes away from defeat, writes MAURICE WOOLF.
Then up popped Mr Reliable, Steve Lovell with his 12th goal of the season.
Lovell turned on to a Dave Cusack free-kick and beat John Shaw with a low shot.
This was just reward for Lovell, who had a point-blank shot saved by Shaw in the third minute. Seven minutes later he saw his header cleared off the line by Andy Llewellyn.
Bristol went in front in the 68th minute following a free-kick. Alan Walsh took it the ball bounced off the Millwall wall to Llewellyn, who crossed for Trevor Morgan net from close in.
Millwall would have been well in contol if the unfortunate Alan McLeary hadn't made the miss of the season two minutes before scored.
Lovell hit the post and the ball rebounded to McLeary, who was only six yards out, with no one near him he inexplicably ballooned ball over the bar.
City had a chance to go ahead in the 60th minute when Morgan centred and Kevin Stroud completely missed the ball.
Bill Roffey prevented a City goal when challenged Glyn Riley for the ball. His important header prevented Riley from scoring and the former Palace and Orient player received a cut head for his troubles.
City manager Terry Cooper said: “We’d
have settled for a point before the match. It was a good test for us. We were under a lot of pressure.”
“Our lads were sick at giving a goal a so late. But I told them they can hold they heads high.”
Millwall boss George Graham said: “It a dour game, but it was up to us as the team to win it. I felt that at the end we got our desserts. If we'd have scored early on we'd have had a good win.”
“What pleased me was that we never gave in and Lovell got his deserved goal.”
● Above: Anton tangles for possession.
● Above Left: Anton pays the price for another run at the defence.
Millwall: Sansome; Stevens, Roffey, Briley, Smith, Cusack, Lowndes, Bremner, McLeary (D Neal. 76), Lovell, Otulakowski.
Bristol City: Shaw; Llewellyn, Newman, Curle, Philipson-Masters, Riley. Pritchard, Ritchie, Morgan, Walsh, Stroud. Sub: Crawford
Ref: Brian Hill (Kettering). Att.: 7,024
Millwall 1, Bristol City 1
by John Gubba
Alan McLeary missed a sitter - a wide open goal - which Millwall agreed lost them their first home points of the season.
A sizzling 30 yarder by man of the match Steve Lovell in the 62nd minute thudded back off the post and left the Millwall Number nine with an open goal at his mercy.
But the bungling striker shot hopelessly off target with the game delicately poised at 0-0.
While Millwall stood in dazed disbelief, Bristol snatched the lead a minute later through Morgan.
They thoroughly deserved it. Millwall never looked like table toppers. Eventually Lovell came to the rescue three minutes from time with his 12th goal of the season.
“It was real beaut,” said relieved Millwall boss George Graham, the man responsible for converting defender Lovell into the club's top scorer.
But he added: “it was a dour game. If we had taken the lead we would have done it. This was the type of game we've got to win.”
Millwall 1, Bristol City 1
Millwall are still top of the Third Division thanks to leading scorer Steve Lovell, who notched his 12th goal of the season in the 87th minute of this dour game.
He swivelled on to a long free kick by Dave Cusack and drove in a low shot past goalkeeper John Shaw, who had previously denied him in the third minute with a brilliant point blank save.
Lovell might have scored earlier with a 30-yard shot which struck a post and a header which just cleared the bar.
City began to attack after the interval and tool the lead in the 69th minute when an Alan Walsh free kick bounced off the defensive wall to Andy Llewellyn, whose cross was turned in by Trevor Morgan.
Just when Millwall's chances seemed to have disappeared, Lovell struck to save their unbeaten home record.