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Millwall v Nottingham Forest - Saturday 31st July 1999

Reporter: Ben Williams

Millwall 2 Forest 1

We lost. To a Second Division team. One week before the season starts. Doesn't bode too well does it ?
In pre-match discussions down t'pub before the game, it was generally agreed that the starting XI today would be very close to the starting XI against Ipswich. So it was no surprise to see the following line up : Crossley; Louis-Jean, Hjelde, Chettle, Rogers; Allou, Scimeca, Quashie, Bart-Williams, Woan; Freedman.
Well, it was a surprise to see Woan playing perhaps, but apart from that.....

The opening was mediocre. One or two nice passes were made, but Millwall settled into their stride more quickly, and started passing the pass around with some purpose. After a quarter of an hour they got a corner down their right. Over it came, and Cahill rose about a foot off the ground, unmarked, and headed the ball into the opposite bottom corner. Cue more sampled crowd noise from the speakers. I hope Platt was livid about this one, because the marking was horrendous. Back to the game then, and about 10 minutes later Quashie was pulled back when almost clean through, just inside the arc on the edge of the area. The otherwise inept referee blew for a free kick, and once a 14 man wall was assembled across the area, Bart-Williams took one step and  curled the ball over the wall and into the net, with seemingly little effort (helped only by the fact that Tony Warner was standing on the opposite side of the goal anyway). And that was it until just before half-time, when following a beautiful ball from Quashie, Dougie found himself clean through on goal. He lobbed the keeper, the ball rose, dipped, dropped - and hit the far post and bounced away. It was clear by now that goals were going to be hard to come by in this game, and had we just missed the opportunity to take a lead at half-time ?

Second half, and Ludwig Pollet and Marlon Harewood came on for Hjelde and Woan respectively. It was to be expected, as Woan had done his usual little during the first half, and Hjelde hadn't done anything to prove that he was back to full fitness. Within about 10 minutes Millwall were ahead again. Chettle was turned/pushed over on the touchline by Neil Harris, who proceeded to carry the ball on, nutmeg Pollet, and curl a shot past Crossley into the net. That's right, he *nutmegged* a triallist defender. Who should be seeking to impress. Well if that's the case then you can go back to wherever you came from Mr Pollet, because we've got enough poor central defenders at this club without you adding to the collection. Harewood had a couple of less than half-chances to get away in the second half, but either didn't quite make it, or got pulled back for offside by a linesman who was clearly being controlled by strings from the home crowd. Oh, and Dougie managed to blaze the ball over the bar following some good work in the centre of the pitch towards the goal by Bart-Williams (I think). So, in the at times torrential rain. Millwall won. And I think they deserved it. They've got some good footballing ideas from what I saw today, they pass the ball around well, and could upset a lot of teams this season. As for Forest players, some need a very large boot up the backside. I thought Louis-Jean was our best player today (but please Matheiu, get rid of the PVH haircut), and he linked up well with the promising Allou. Rogers had a quiet game, Bart-Williams and Quashie had the odd moment of inspiration, Scimeca fell a long way short of the form he'd apparently shown against Brighton, not loking like 3 million pounds worth of talent at all, Chettle played reasonably well, clearing up after Hjelde, and Dougie was crap. I tipped him to get us 20 goals this season - indeed he may do from tap-ins, but today he just wasn't interested in chasing anything, or putting himself about. I hope it's just because he's not fully fit, because at the moment we're relying on him.

If Platt is going to play 4-5-1, then he really needs to play Harewood up on his own, because Dougie can't hold the ball up - he'd be better playing off Harewood in the same way that PVH played off Campbell. Finally, I have a wish list for David Platt. David, please buy the following before the start of the season if you still want to have a job at Christmas :
1) A new centre half to play alongside Mattsson in a back 4, Scimeca and Jesper in a back 3 And make it Paul Ritchie please
2) A left back, so Rogers can play left midfield (or wing back) Perhaps Stensaas, if he's not too injury prone
3) A right midfielder/winger Goldbaek would fill this gap nicely
4) One, if not two centre forwards, one to hold the ball up, one to run on to it from deeper Ade Akinbiyi, Robbie Blake, or Vincent Montella
5) Another goalkeeper, to replace the ageing Beasant - Richard Wright, given the choice.

Thank you!

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