Neal gives Lions fighting chance
by Brian Stater
Chelsea 3 Millwall 1
Dean Neal breathed life into Millwall's Milk Cup challenge with a spectacular second half goal - and afterwards revealed that he shouldn't have scored!
His effort came as Millwall trailed Chelsea 3-0 in the first leg of this second round tie at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.
An Anton Otulakowski free kick was floated into the area and Neal -sent a superb header crashing into the net off the cross bar.
The goal gives the Lions a fighting chance of snatching a third round spot when the sides meet again on October 9, but afterwards Neal admitted, “It came from a plan that went wrong. The idea was that the ball should go further across the penalty area, and my run was meant as a decoy.”
“But the ball didn't carry, so I had a crack myself. It was marvellous to see it go in.”
Millwall had seen stunned by two goals within a minute on the half-hour mark. After a bright start they saw former Chelsea defender Micky Nutton make a nightmare return to Stamford Bridge.
A probing pass split the Lions rearguard and Nutton, attempting to pass back to Paul Sansome, sent the ball trickling into his own net.
And after the restart Chelsea striker Kerry Dixon named by manager George Graham as the major threat before the match, went through to hammer a remarkable individual effort.
Dixon also grabbed the third, pouncing on a shocking Nicky Chatterton pass to lash the ball past Sansome five minutes after the break.
Millwall had carved out enough openings to match Chelsea in the opening spell. Bustling forward Kevin Bremner robbed Colin Pates in the 16th minute and tried to score from an acute angle - with Otulakowski waiting unmarked in the penalty area
● Dean Neal takes on Chelsea defender Colin Pates
● Les Briley and Micky Thomas get in a tangle
Otulakowski was involved again 10 minutes before the break, when Nutton headed his corner back across the goal and Steve Lovell squandered a gilt edged chance, heading against the outside of the post.
And manager Graham was left purring over Otulakowski's performance. He said, “Anton has first division quality and it showed.”
Millwall: Sansome, Stevens, Roffey, Briley, Nutton, Cusack, Lovell (McLeary), Bremner, Neal, Chatterton, Otulakowski.
Ref J A Moules (Essex) Att: 19,819
● Nicky Chatterton is robbed by sliding tackle