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
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
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
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