Millwall 2 (2).....................Brentford 0 (0)
Lovell (14) & (28)
Millwall match winner Steve Lovell paid a straight-talking tribute to manager George Graham at The Den.
by Brian Alexander
Having masterminded Millwall's jump in to second place in an unaccustomed forward role, the former Crystal Palace player told me, “This club have given me my first real chance.”
“At Palace, the various managers never gave me a hope. They had their favourites, especially the so-called 'names' at the club. But here, the boss George Graham has no favourites. Everyone knows where they stand. If you play well you're in the first team. If you don't you're out.”
Still just 22, Welshman Lovell is a quality utility player, equally as happy in the forward line as he is in midfield or at full-back.
He explained, “Because Dean Neal is injured, the boss gave me freedom to play my normal attacking game but this time I could stay up front if felt I liked it. ”
And manager Graham added, “Steve has come along brilliantly. He's about the best free transfer signing anyone could wish for.”
Lovell opened the scoring after 14 minutes. Bill Roffey swung over a deep croos, big Dave Cusack nodded down and Lovell stroked the ball in to the far corner from 10 yards.
He got number two on the half hour when he rose well above Brentford's Steve Wignall to squeeze a header between the post and goalkeeper Trevor Swinbourne.
The miss of the day fell to out-of-touch Kevin Bremner. Lovell finished off a powerful run down the, right by squaring the ball to unmarked Bremner. Bremner contrived to miss from two yards.
Millwall: Sansome, Stevens, Roffey, Briley, Smith, Cusack, Lowndes, Bremner, McLeary, Lovell, Otulakowski.
Referee: Brian Stevens (Stonehouse)
Millwall 2 (2) Brentford 0 (0)
Lovell (14) & (28)
By Maurice Woolf
Steve Lovell became joint top scorer with two goals that took the Lions to second place in Division Three.
Millwall manager George Graham said: “The score could have been 6-2. It was a bit awkward for us in the last 20 minutes.”
“But we could have had the game sewn up before this when Kevin Bremner, who has never been noted for good finishing, missed from two yards.”
“Lovell has proved to be a tremendous free transfer and plays anywhere. We shoved him up front today to compensate for the absence of Dean Neal.”
Brentford boss Frank McLintock, who captained the Arsenal double team in which Graham played, said: “I thought we were two ordinary teams until they went two up.”
“You can't give a team like Millwall two goals start, but we’ll finish in the top eight. We gave them no competition in the first half, but I was a lot happier with the second half.”
Former Millwall defender Paul Roberts played well for the Bees and made timely interventions to keep the score down.
Bremner then went past four players, only to hit the ball straight at the keeper.
Lovell scored the first of his goals in the 14th minute when Dave Cusack out jumped everyone to head down Bill Roffey's free kick to him.
The Lions had a let off three minutes later when Keith Cassells hit the bar. The home side came straight back and Swinburne denied Lovell with a brilliant save.
In the 28th minute, Lovell popped up again to score. Otulakowski crossed into the area, Bremner headed on and Lovell nodded it in.
Lovell then beat four men in a brilliant run and crossed to Bremer, who somehow missed the ball from two yards.
It was the same story at the start of the second half. Twice Otulakowski hit the keeper and both Steve Lowndes and Bremner missed chances.
This win took Millwall into second place, but once again their need for a striker was spotlighted.
Millwall: Sansome, Stevens, Roffey, Briley, Smith, Cusack, Lowndes, Bremner, McLeary, Lovell, Otulakowski. Sub not used Nutton
Brentford: Swinburne, Fisher, Murray, P Roberts, Wignall, Hurlock, Kamara, Salman (Lynch 45 min), Cassells, Alexander, G Roberts.
Referee: Mr. B T Stevens (Stonehouse).
● Steve Lovell heads home the second goal
MILLWALL's home record remains intact after a bruising encounter which cost Brentford their unbeaten away record.
Two goals from 22-year-old Steve Lovell sealed it, but the makeshift striker, replacing injured Dean Neal, twice missed his hat-trick.
Once Lovell unselfishly presented team-mate Kevin Bremner with an open goal, but Bremner missed from two yards and two minutes from time Lovell headed onto the bar.
“Lovell has been a revelation” said Lions Manager George Graham, but admited: “I’m still looking for a big striker.”
Brentford boss Frank McLintock was philosophical as several of his players needed pain-killing injections and Danis Salman was pulled off when that didn't work.
Newcomer Rowan Alexander tried to overcome a similar complaint but missed a couple of chances as he too flagged.
But if Brentford were despondent there was enthusiasm aplenty at Millwall who went second in the Third Division and are top scorers.