by Brian Stater|
MILLWALL duo Les Briley and Anton Otulakowski stand by to return to first team action tonight as The Lions take on Reading in a Milk Cup clash at The Den.
The midfield pair were left out of Saturday's Third Division defeat Cambridge after serving a two-match ban.
And manager George Graham said, “They will definitely be in the running for a place.”
Neither skipper Briley or Otulakowski were due to appear in yesterday's Reserve clash with Ipswich, adding fuel to speculation that Graham intends to bring them in tonight.
If they return, Alan McLeary and Nicky Chatterton are likely to step aside.
Millwall go into the game with a 1-1 draw from the first leg. Manager Graham said, “It's going to he difficult, as Reading are a big, strong side. But we’ve been playing some excellent football, with only our finishing letting us down.”
Millwall 4 Reading 3 (5 - 4 on Aggregate)
Both bosses beamed: “It was a great game and a terrific ad for soccer.”
“It's a pity it wasn't screened for a larger audience,” added Lions' chief George Graham. “Anyone who came tonight will certainly come again.”
Too true. Shame was that someone had to lose such a fine game but Millwall still deserved to join Palace and Chariton in the next round of the Milk Cup.
But Keith Stevens will be an unhappy man.
The defender is going to be fined by Graham for a bad tackle for which he was booked. Graham said: “I will not tolerate these breaches of rules. The players will be disciplined.”
Dean Neal gave Millwall the lead in the 16th minute from a Nicky Chatterton cross after Anton Otulakowski's free-kick had been blocked. The ball rebounded to Chatterton, who placed it on Neal's head.
The cheers had hardly died down when Reading drew level. David Crown beat Paul Sansome from close in a minute later. Steve Lovell who, had a cracking game, scored the second after a sweet move that involved Les Briley, Otulakowski and Bremner.
Left: Lovell scores Millwall's Second Goal
It was a textbook goal and came in the 25th minute. But the home team were rocked when Trevor Senior levelled after Martin Hicks headed down a Dean Horrix ball in the 29th minute.
A bigger shock came for the New Cross fans when Crown gave the visitors the lead in the 35th minute. Sansome came out to try and beat Crown to the ball, but his kick cannoned off Crown's legs and the striker was able to lob the ball into an empty net.
Millwall seemed dead and buried but an overhead kick from Neal in the 73rd minute made it level again.
We were having visions of extra-time until Millwall were awarded a dubious penalty for a foul on Otulakowski. Lovell took the kick, Alan Judge saved it. Only for the ball to come back to Chatterton, who slammed it in. Graham said: “I was pleased with Briley and Anton, who played their first games of the season, although Anton drifted in and out of the match.”
This was the best match I’ve seen for ages.
GUTSY Anton Otulakowski sparked Millwall's win in this Milk Cup classic – after fearing he had broken his leg.
With the Lions level at 3-3, Otulakowski slid into the penalty area in an attempt to convert a low, hard Bill Roffey centre.
He missed the ball by inches, but slammed his right leg into the goal post in a sickening collision.
Yet Millwall's pint-sized dynamo was quickly back in action, and just five minutes after the accident he set up Millwall's winner.
Otulakowski went on a lone raid that took him all of 60 yards before being brought down for a 79th minute penalty.
Steve Lovell's spot kick was pushed out by goalkeeper Alan Judge, but Nicky Chatterton followed up to slam the ball home and clinch Millwall's place in yesterday's second round draw.
Afterwards Anton revealed, “The point of impact with the post was just below my knee. If it had been a little bit lower my leg would have snapped.”
Anton's efforts provided the finishing flourish to a fine Lions display. Dean Neal, missing two simple chances, managed to put away a pair of more difficult opportunities - heading home a Chatterton chip for the first-half opener and netting with a spectacular overhead shot to peg Reading back to 3-3 after the interval.
Afterwards Lions boss George Graham said, “It was a great game for everyone.” Graham had brought Otulakowski and new skipper Les Briley in for their first competitive game of the season.
He added, “Anton drifted in and out of the game - but when he drifts in, he's class.”
After, Millwall's 16th minute opener David Crown beat Paul Sansome from close range and deadly Trevor Senior grabbed the second.
Les Briley: Debut for Millwall
MILLWALL: Sansome, Stevens, Roffey, Briley, Martin, Cusack. Lovell, Bremner, Neal, Chatterton, Otulakowski. Sub: Mcleary
Ref. M James (Horsham) Attendance: 3,590