Home 1987/88 Previous Next
Division Two: Birmingham City Home
It was a performance that left John Docherty beaming with delight, shell-shocked Birmingham wondering what had hit them and the healthy 6,758 crowd roaring their approval. Here we go, here we go, here we go?

It all looked highly unlikely when the previously unbeaten Midland side cashed in on an uncharacteristic error by teenage full back Sean Sparham to take the lead after just four minutes - Tony Rees curling home Steve Wigley's cross.

After the frustration of Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Leicester it was just the sort of start Millwall could have done without and Docherty admitted.

"You keep telling then to he patient, but when something like that happens it is a big test of character, especially at home when the crowd are anxious for you to do well.

But they responded well and no one better than young Sean. It was a bad mistake and he could have let it get to him but he's made of sterner stuff, he just shrugged his shoulders and got on with it.
Tony Godden, who had already pulled off one stupendous save from George Lawrence tested Millwall's reserves of patience with assorted heroics to frustrate Tony Cascarino and Teddy Sheringham.

But just when it looked as though Millwall's frustration would get the better of them Godden could only parry a 33rd minute Cascarino header and Lawrence gleefully drilled home the rebound for his third goal in four games.

That set the scene for a second half of almost relentless Millwall pressure with Les Briley and Terry Hurlock dictating, things in midfield and Danis Salman getting through an un-precedented amount of work on the left.

Sheringham provided the overworked Godden with some more employment. But Docherty's insatiable appetite for goals seems to have spread right through the team and it was centre half Alan Walker who finally cracked Birmingham's desperate rearguard action.
Godden who had denied Millwall almost single-handedly for 80 minutes, inexplicably allowed Hurlock's free kick to slip through his hands and Walker, hardly renowned as a goalscorer, couldn't miss from three yards.

Not to be outdone full back Keith Stevens, who had only scored two goals in 175 previous first team outings, put the outcome beyond doubt with a far post header from Danis Salman’ s 89th minute corner.

Ratings: Horne***, Stevens****, Sparham***, Walker***, Wood****, Lawrence***, Briley ***, Sheringham**, Cascarino***, Salman **** Referee David Axcell (Southend). Booking: Walker

Match rating: 4
Millwall (1) 3
Lawrence (33)
Walker (80)
Stevens (89)
Birmingham City (1) 1
Rees (4)
Attendance: 6,785

IT was billed as the first big test of Millwall's promotion potential and John Docherty's new-look side passed with flying colours. Team-spirit, patience and discipline - they were all there to he admired as the Lions shrugged off what could have been a devastating fourth minute setback.

Born-again Lions
Millwall 3 Birmingham 1
By Peter Cordwel

DON'T blink or you'll miss Millwall's enthralling brand of soccer. Their game, rejuvenated by the big summer signings, is based almost entirely on momentum.

They drill the ball at their strikers - usually around head height - and zip in to pick up the pieces with ravenous enthusiasm. It's a momentum that ultimately left Birmingham, previously unbeaten, ragged and dispirited. And who's to say it won't take the Lions, like Watford, all the way to Division One?

Teddy Sheringham, so often a lone, frustrated forager last season, now has two equally strong, willing and athletic allies in Tony Cascarino and George Lawrence.

And the near 7,000 crowd, who gave their team a standing ovation at the end, were left in no doubt that a First Division place - for the first time in Millwall's 100-year history -will be won or lost up front.
As early as the second minute Lawrence got on the end of a Sean Sparham cross for a bullet header that was brilliantly saved low down, Banks-like, by Tony Godden.

Young full-back Sparham, commendably two-footed and adding a welcome area of composure in the cauldron, was unhappily at fault when Birmingham took a shock fourth-minute lead through Tony Rees.

Millwall merely stepped on the gas. Sheringham chipped just wide; Godden palmed away a curling Cascarino shot and Sheringham just failed to make a proper connection with a Lawrence cross just under the bar. Godden pulled off another incredible save from a venomous header, Cascarino's this time, but the ball went to Lawrence, whose first-time shot found the net for the equaliser, through a crowd of players in the 33rd minute.

Millwall, in their present mood, could have done without half time, upsetting as it did their momentum. That, plus Birmingham's ploy in bringing on Bird to help deal with the aerial assaults,
made for a curiously quiet opening ten minutes to the second half.

But things soon livened tip again and Lawrence, definitely the main man with the home fans, brought another fine save from Godden following a lovely little set-up by Sheringham.

All the while Terry Warlock -sorry Hurlock - was adding delightfully deft touches to his more obvious qualities. And it was his quickly-taken free kick - agonisingly dropped by the admirable Godden -that enabled Alan Walker to tap Millwall in front.

Keith Stevens, up for Lawrence's drilled-in corner, headed a superb third in the final minute to give the scoreline a more realistic look. We all had to catch our breaths as we left the scene. Millwall could make it to the First Division and there a lot of excitement on the way.

Millwall: Horne Stevens, Walker, Wood, Sparham, Hurlock, Briley, Salman, Sheringham, Lawrence, Cascarino. Ref: David Axcell. Att: 6,758

Match rating: 4
MILLWALL, urged on by a 6,758 crowd-2,000 above season's average-responded with fighting display to sink Birmingham 3-1 with two goals in last 10 minutes.

George Lawrence (33 min) Alan Walker (80) and Keith Stevens (89) clinched the three points after Tony Rees gave Birmingham a shock lead after only four minutes.

Manager John Docherty said: "This was a real test of character for the players and also shows that the lessons I had asked them to learn from Saturday's defeat have sunk in. I told them to be patient and, when playing at home, to build up to goals and not feel frustrated."

"Even the youngster Sean Sparham carried this out. He shrugged off the mistake his mistake in conceding the first goal and we ground Birmingham down by playing good football
MILLWALL justified their massive £650,000 summer spending spree with a 3-1 win over Birmingham.

They wrecked Birmingham’s unbeaten record to move into fourth place in the Second Division.

But there was trouble before the game as coaches brining Birmingham fans to the game were damaged after bricks and cans were thrown.

A heavy police escort got the Birmingham fans to the ground. Some of the shaken Blues fans were still plucking broken glass from their clothes when Birmingham took the lead through Tony Rees.

George Lawrence equalised with his third goal in four games in the 33rd minute. From then on Birmingham could only hang on as Millwall steam-rollered their way to victory.

Alan Walker added the second goal and In the 89th minute Keith Stevens headed the Loins third.
Millwall Hit Form
MILLWALL played their best football for some time to defeat Birmingham City at The Den after trailing to a Tony Rees fourth minute goal.

George Lawrence, with his 3rd goal in four games, equalised in the 31st minute after Tony Godden had parried Tony Cascarino header into the path of Lawrence who whipped the net.

The Lions dominated the Second half but Godden, who had kept Birmingham alive with of brilliant saves, made a solitary misjudgement in the second-half and presented Alan Walker with a simple chance in the 80th minute to put Millwall ahead.

Stevens clinched victory for the home side in the 89th Minute.

What a game! The above reports are right, Millwall played at an incredible tempo in the second half, wave upon wave of attacks. I recall to this day leaving the ground buzzing and drenched in sweat from the excitement. The two late goals were celebrated with aplomb.

The incident with the coaches happened on the New Cross Road. I was standing outside the Crown and Anchor pub when we saw two unescorted coaches come past. The Birmingham fans inside were giving the old two finger salutes, safe in the knowledge that they were speeding past.

However the London rush hour traffic meant they come to a halt out side the Fox where the regulars proceeded to smash every window on the coaches.

Contributor: Gazza.
Home 1987/88 Previous Next
  The Millwall History Files    The Millwall Story since the early 1980's         [Home]  [Contents]  [Links]   [Search]