It's Not Rover And Out, Just Another Game For Kenny Jackett In Millwall's FA Cup Replay Against Blackburn Rovers
Football as we know isn’t an exact science. Just because you’ve dominated a game and missed chances, it doesn’t follow that your overall chance to win the tie has passed. The play offs have honed and galvanised teams like Millwall and managers like Kenny Jackett for just such an occasion.
Drawing the home first leg doesn’t necessarily spell the end of your promotion hopes, just as starting the second leg at home with the scores level after the first 90 minutes doesn’t always guarantee you a place in the final.But this isn’t two leg knock-out football, it’s the FA Cup.
The advantage of Millwall’s raucous support at The Den was not capitalised on. Neither were several goalscoring chances in a game that was, to be honest, barely a good advert for Championship football let alone a fitting audition for the last four of the FA Cup.
Both teams were suitably matched. Each had recently suffered poor league form, injuries to key players and were looking to this match as a way of breathing life into their season which will almost certainly see no more an exciting finale than mid table mediocrity.
It wasn’t too long ago that Millwall swaggered to a 2-0 league victory at Ewood Park which might have had them imagining a sunny day out at Wembley in the play off final. But with both goalscorers on that day absent, and Rovers back four looking as bone hard as the granite features of their new manager Michael Appleton, 0-0 was always a fair bet in a scrappy affair.
Being included in the semi final draw is scant consolation, and the pairing with Wigan will have the more optimistic Rovers and Lions fans feeling there’s a chance to make it all the way to the final once they complete the job on Wednesday.
Millwall have been here before - against a different Rovers. Back in 2004 during that glorious run to the final they were dealt a kind hand in the draw which saw Tranmere visit The Den for the quarter final.
That game also ended goalless, and again Millwall seemed to have blown their chance when a Kevin Muscat penalty was saved. Third tier Tranmere were almost installed as favourites for the replay but goals from Neil Harris and Tim Cahill saw Dennis Wise’s team safely into the semis where they again avoided the big names and beat Sunderland to reach the final for the first time.
With the greatest respect to the players that Kenny Jackett has available for selection for the replay, the class of 2013 is sorely missing a Harris, Cahill, Ifill or even Danny Dichio and it was that lack of craft that probably cost them in the final third yesterday.
Reaching Wembley for the third time in his six year tenure won’t be at the top of Jackett’s list. The club only managed one appearance at the national stadium in the 86 years before he arrived, so he won’t be losing too much sleep over it if they don’t make it this time, even if it will prove a frustrating near miss for the fans who will fancy another day out at the glorious arch.
Kenny Jackett’s goal is long term. Whatever the result at Ewood on Wednesday, it will be back to securing another season in the Championship and steadily continuing his quiet renaissance at the club. Make no mistake, Rovers are now favourites, but don’t bet against Jackett pulling off another unexpected win.