LEEDS United slipped down a place to sixth in the Npower Championship after another disappointing away performance at one of their least favourite grounds.
The New Den has never been a happy hunting ground for United and it saw them outfought again for the first half at least as they trailed 2-0 to give themselves a mountain to climb against Millwall before battling back after the break to make a game of it.
James Henry put Millwall ahead with a free-kick Kasper Schmeichel got a hand to and went two up in the first half-hour with Liam Trotter’s close range finish from a corner that saw some poor marking.
Manager Simon Grayson (pictured) was unhappy that the first half goals were conceded from set pieces, but he was pleased with the comeback and reckoned his team were then unlucky as they pulled a goal back through Luciano Becchio and were “on top” at the time Steve Morison’s notched the Lions’ third goal with the help of a fortunate deflection.
Andy O’Brien’s late header was too little, too late to rescue a point and United are now behind in-form Reading, whose dramatic 4-3 win at Nottingham Forest maintained their big winning run.
Leeds, however, still hold a four-point advantage on the pack outside the play-off places ahead of a quick follow-up game at Derby on Tuesday night.
Grayson said the Derby game was “winnable” if the players learned lessons from Saturday’s match, but he bemoaned his team’s poor start against Millwall.
He said: “You can’t give good teams two-goal starts and Millwall are a good team. We knew it was going to be a tough game because they’ve had some good results recently.
“We’ve played them a lot over the past couple of years and we know what they’re all about, but we didn’t really get going in the first-half.
“I said to the players at half-time that we need to increase the tempo and get in and amongst them in the second half.
“We got a great opportunity to get back in the game with the goal and for the next 20 minutes we were on top and had them on the back foot before they got the third goal with a shot that Kasper would have covered easily but got a deflection to enable Morison to score.
“There will be many twists and turns. Today’s defeat won’t decide whether we get a play-off place.”
(Henry 24, Trotter 30, Morrison 62)
Leeds United 2
(Becchio 51, O’Brien 90)
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Millwall: Forde, Robinson, Craig, Mkandawire, Ward, Smith Trotter, Henry, Townsend (Bouazza 89), Morison (McQuoid 90), Lisbie (Harris 33).
Leeds: Schmeichel; Connolly (Bannan 74), O’Brien, Bromby, Lichaj; Snodgrass (Somma 45), Howson, Johnson, Livermore (McCormack 82), Gradel, Becchio.
Referee: Scott Mathieson.