The Bluebirds took to the field in front of the TV cameras in Saturday’s early kick-off, looking for their third win in seven days. Unfortunately, Danny Shittu’s goal – and subsequent late handball in the area that wasn’t penalised – meant the points stayed in Bermondsey.
Russell Slade’s 11 – unchanged from Tuesday evening’s win at home to Ipswich – were in the ascendancy from the kick-off, pressing the home side high up the pitch and threatening around the edges of the penalty area. A free-kick was given after 11 minutes following a foul on Federico Macheda, though the in-form Peter Whittingham struck his effort into the sturdy Millwall wall.
The opening 20 minutes brought about an excellent contest, with each side going close to opening the scoring. A superb ball from Craig Noone freed Adam Le Fondre in the 18th minute, the striker taking the ball down superbly and only just clearing the crossbar with an attempted lob over former Bluebird, David Forde. Moments later, a loose ball broke nicely for Matt Briggs, allowing him to cross from the left towards a diving Ricardo Fuller who was inches away from making what would surely have been goal-scoring contact.
Substitution Cardiff City: Aron Gunnarsson replaced by Joe Ralls (34 minutes)
City’s best chance came seven minutes from the break. Good forward play between Kiko Macheda and Adam Le Fondre saw the ball break inside the area for Craig Noone. The winger struck firmly to force a good save out of Forde, only for the ball to break to Le Fondre, six yards from goal; unfortunately, the striker was denied by another superb Forde reflex save.
In the 42nd minute, Millwall’s best chance would come. The home side had continually tried to utilise the long-ball tactic throughout the first half, with veteran forward Fuller wily in leading the line. From a Fuller knockdown, Scott McDonald connected left-footed from 30 yards out, striking only just wide of David Marshall’s far post with the City ‘keeper at full stretch.
HALF TIME: MILLWALL 0-0 CARDIFF CITY
It was from a cheap corner that the home side would take the lead at the Den. Danny Shittu – the Millwall centre half who had been a little fortunate on a number of occasions not to see yellow – leapt highest at the far post to power his header home past David Marshall.
GOAL: MILLWALL 1-0 CARDIFF CITY (Shittu, 54 minutes)
Millwall were rampant and may have taken a two goal lead just before the hour mark, again utilising their long ball tactic. Lee Gregory found a gap between Morrison and Manga to run clear towards Marshall and a bouncing goal; the striker cleared the ‘keeper, but in the same way as Le Fondre in the first half, the effort found the roof of the net.
Substitution Cardiff City: Adam Le Fondre replaced by Nicky Maynard (61 minutes)
Substitution Cardiff City: Kiko Macheda replaced by Ravel Morrison (61 minutes)
Substitution Cardiff City: Ricardo Fuller replaced by Martyn Woolford (78 minutes)
In the final 15 minutes, Cardiff began to pose more of an attacking threat. Ravel Morrison’s trickery around the edge of the area was, at times, sublime – indeed six minutes from time his probing run into the area and ball across goal almost found Craig Noone, Shittu’s late interception, arguably with part of his arm, seeing it safely back to Forde.
But Millwall hung on for the points. The Bluebirds showed quality at times, passed the ball well in patches, but ultimately came unstuck in a war of attrition, initiated from the off by the home side.
FULL TIME: MILLWALL 1-0 CARDIFF CITY
Millwall:Forde, Shittu (c), Williams, Martin, Gregory, Briggs (Webster), Upson, Beevers, Fuller (Woolford), McDonald, Wilkinson. Subs: King, Onyedinma, O'Brien, Abdou, Chaplow.
Cardiff City: Marshall (c), Brayford, Fabio, S.Morrison, Manga, Whittingham, Gunnarsson (Ralls), Noone, Pilkington, Le Fondre (Maynard), Macheda (R.Morrison). Subs: Moore, Connolly, Daehli, Gabbidon.