by Michael Hart
Millwall manager George Graham today predicted a momentous clash when Chelsea defend a 3-1 lead in the Milk Cup second round second leg at The Den on October 9.
Graham's lively Third Division side matched Chelsea for the opening 25 minutes at Stamford Bridge last night but, as charging police horses signaled inevitable terrace disturbances, they wilted under Kerry Dixon’s own cavalry charge.
“If we can pull a goal back in the first half at the Den, we’ll have a great chance.” said Graham today.
“I was proud of the way we played, especially in the opening 25 minutes and I though we scored the best goal of the game.”
Millwall's spirited challenge was epitomised by the craft and industry of Anton Otulakowski, who showed glimpses of the form that once prompted Ron Greenwood to buy him for West Ham.
He patently outshone Chelsea’s talented little winger Pat Nevin - substitutes five minutes from time - and set up Dean Neal’s gloriously headed goal in the 65th minute.
But by that time Millwall were chasing a lost cause. The collapse began in the 28th minute when
former Chelsea defender Mickey Nutton's lunging tackle on David Speedie succeeded only in steering the ball into his own net.
Within 60 Seconds Dixon had run onto fine through pass from Doug Rougive and carried the ball out to the left before driving his shot across Paul Sansome into the far corner of the net.
It was a goal that ended a barren run of six matches and in front of England Bobby Robson, he celebrated his return to form in the 51st minute when latched onto a back pass and scored again from close range.
“They were important goals for Kerry,” said assistant manager Ian McNeil, “He should have everything going for him now.”
Graham said “Dixon is like a scavenger - and that's a compliment. He picks up all the bits and pieces. You can't relax when he's around.”
In front of their own passionate supporters Millwall have a chance of pulling back the deficit, but Graham makes no secret of the fact that promotion is the priority this season. “We're building a promotion side and playing First Division opposition like Chelsea is all Part of our education”, he said.
McNeill said: “We expected a hard game last night and we got it. It's going, to be even harder at the Den. We got a 3-1 lead but were have to go like the clappers to hang onto it.”
Goal: Kerry Dixon cracks his first and Chelsea's second
by Nigel Clarke
Kerry Dixon last night ended a six-game goalless run by grabbing two in this Milk Cup win over Millwall.
And the double he snatched to end the resistance of a brave Millwall side was all about quality finishing.
Said Millwall boss George Graham, “He's a scavenger and I mean that in the nicest possible way. He's always there to pick up the bits and pieces”
But Dixon's opener-his first goal since the seasons opening day was a classic, a brilliant strike of devastating simplicity and cold-eyed efficiency.
He took a pass from Doug Rougvie, broke through the middle went round Dave Cusack then cut the ball into the net as keeper Paul Sansome tried force him wide.
Dixon had already made a major impact 60 seconds earlier by setting up the first goal, which was a tragedy for Millwall's Mickey Nutton. Dixon pierced the Lions defence with a through ball for David Speedie, and Nutton, the former Chelsea defender, could only turn it agonisingly wide of his own goalkeeper.
That was point in the first leg tie for Millwall, who had opened so well.
Ten minutes into the second half Dixon got in on the end of a bad back pass before Millwall got the goal of the game when Dean Neal headed home from Anton Otulakowski
● Dixon at the Double: Kerry celebrates his second goal.