BIRMINGHAM DEFEAT: Blues lose to mid-table rivals Millwall
Credit: PA Kirsty O’Connor
Millwall ended a four-game winless streak with a 3-1 home victory over mid-table rivals Birmingham.
The Lions were two goals up by half-time through efforts from Murray Wallace and Tom Bradshaw.
Troy Deeney’s second half-strike gave Blues hope but George Evans sealed the points with Millwall’s third 17 minutes from time.
Visiting boss Lee Bowyer brought in Neil Etheridge for his first league start this season, replacing the injured Matija Sarkic in goal, and he had little to do in a quiet opening.
Play stopped in the sixth minute as players and supporters from both sides came together for a minute’s applause in memory of six-year-old Birmingham fan Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, who was murdered by his stepmother in June 2020.
Arthur was left with an unsurvivable brain injury while in the sole care of Emma Tustin, who on Friday was jailed for life while Arthur’s father Thomas Hughes was sentenced to 21 years for manslaughter.
Four minutes later, the hosts took the lead. A well-worked corner found Evans but when his shot was blocked, the ball kindly to Wallace and the Scottish defender made no mistake from six yards.
Millwall should have doubled their advantage in the 22nd minute, but Benik Afobe’s header flew just past Etheridge in the Birmingham goal.
Five minutes before half time, the Lions did get their second after again making the most of a corner.
This time Bradshaw was on the receiving end of Scott Malone’s incoming ball and his powerful header flew into the net.
Millwall started the second half on top and Bradshaw nearly got his second with a half-volley which forced Etheridge down low to make a great save.
Birmingham halved the deficit in the 57th minute when captain Deeney combined well with Scott Hogan to get past the Millwall defence before blasting a rocket past Bartosz Bialkowski into the roof of the net in front of the travelling fans.
The hosts thought they had restored their two-goal lead four minutes later from yet another corner, only for Afobe to be ruled offside in the build-up.
Afobe was involved in another glorious opportunity for the Lions, his low shot again forcing Etheridge to parry the ball round for another corner.
But the Blues stopper could do nothing to prevent Evans adding to the Lions’ lead in the 73rd minute, curling beautifully into the top corner after a period of good pressure from the hosts as they reaffirmed their control over a tight game.
Etheridge was involved again to prevent two Millwall attempts in quick succession, first from Jed Wallace and then Malone’s instinctive reaction to the initial save.
Birmingham substitute Chuks Aneke shot straight at Bialkowski in stoppage time as the visitors tried to find a consolation without success.
The Blues are now left with only one win in their last nine league matches.
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