Millwall 2-0 Birmingham City: Defensive errors prove costly for struggling Blues
(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Millwall moved up to 11th in the Championship table after a 2-0 win over Birmingham City at The Den, goals from Jed Wallace and Ben Thompson sunk the Blues to a third straight defeat, they remain in 23rd position.

Millwall made three changes from their previous win against Reading, with Jed Wallace, Matt Smith and Mason Bennett coming into the team for Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, Kenneth Zohore and Shaun Williams.

After their 1-0 defeat to Luton Town last time out, Blues boss Aitor Karanka made five changes, Yan Valery, George Friend, Ivan Sanchez, Alen Halilović and Jérémie Bela were all replaced by Kristian Pedersen, Maxime Colin, Jake Clarke-Salter, Lukas Jutkiewicz and Rakeem Harper, who made his first start for the club since joining on loan from West Bromwich Albion.

Story of the match

The last two meetings between these sides had finished in 0-0 draws, that trend did not continue after a goal just a couple of minutes in at The Den.

A poor back pass from Mikel San Jose couldn’t be met by Neil Etheridge, as Jed Wallace got their first and poked it past the ‘keeper to give the hosts the lead.

That was the seventh goal this season in all competitions for the Lions’ top scorer.

After twelve minutes, the visitors had their first opportunity when the ball fell kindly to Harlee Dean from a corner, although his low driven effort was deflected just wide of the post.

On the 20-minute mark, Jake Cooper went down injured from a Millwall free kick, it appeared to be an awkward landing on his shoulder after tussling in-between Jutkiewicz and Clarke-Salter, who appeared to fall onto the defender. Cooper was replaced by Alex Pearce as a result.

Mahlon Romeo found Smith at the back post, his looping header towards the far post was caught comfortably by Etheridge.

The hosts went in at the break with a slender lead, something which Birmingham would have been frustrated about, there wasn't a lot in the game and the visitors had gifted their opponents the lead.

57 minutes in, Smith found Scott Malone who saw his effort saved back into the path of Smith from just a few yards out, his shot was seemingly blocked brilliantly by Harlee Dean, although replays look to show that it came of his hand, whilst his desperate efforts to hold his face worked and he escaped a red card and penalty being given.

Mikel San Jose was then taken off after a poor afternoon in which he gifted Wallace the opener, he was replaced by Yan Valery, on loan from Southampton

The visitors had their best chance of the afternoon with 25 minutes to go. Jutkiewicz turned excellently past a couple of Millwall players in the box, before firing his shot at the near post, with a strong hand from Bartosz Bialkowski keeping it out.

Jutkiewicz struck a hopeful left-footed effort from the edge of the box which was comfortably saved by the Polish 'keeper, as both Birmingham struggled to create many clear cut chances.

After 75 minutes had gone, the hosts doubled their advantage. Shaun Hutchinson came forward for the Lions on the right hand-side, before firing in a low cross to the feet of Ben Thompson at the far post, who made it 2-0.

It was a great run by Thompson, who got himself away from any Blues defender and struck home a powerful first time effort on goal from six yards out.

One minute into stoppage time, Harper's shot from a corner fell to Jonathan Leko who found the net from close range, only for it to be ruled out for offside.


Blues boss under pressure

A third defeat in a row and winless in six leaves Aitor Karanka's side in 23rd position, with the Spaniard under increased pressure to turn it around, if he is given the chance.

His side probably didn't deserve to be behind at half-time but it was an error which they cannot afford to be making, whilst they didn't improve in the second period.

They were second best in the second half and had the officials seen Harlee Dean handle the ball to prevent a Millwall goal, things could have gone from bad to worse for the struggling Blues.

If Karanka is given more time, the next game up against fellow strugglers Sheffield Wednesday is a huge one - and they will have to be better in both cutting out defensive errors but also creating more going forward, which they lacked in this one.

An uninspiring win for Millwall

Gary Rowett's men kept up their slim hopes of a play-off push alive with an important 2-0 win, although it wasn't one of their better performances of the season.

The first goal was a gift from San Jose, whilst the second was also poor defending from the visitors.

Having said that, if it is going to be a successful season for the Lions, these are the games they need to win, and they did just that.

Man of the match

This wasn't an easy decision to make for all the wrong reasons, the Blues were poor on the night but Millwall were not much better considering they came out on top.

Jed Wallace got the first goal of the night for the Lions and worked as hard as ever, and so comes away with man of the match for this one.