A brace from Aiden O’Brien inspired Millwall come tome from behind to thrash Barnsley 4-1 yesterday at The Den and book their place in the 4th round of the FA Cup.
It was the first time since November 2013 that the South London side had beaten their Yorkshire rivals, avenging their 3-1 defeat at the hands of them earlier in the season. As expected, Millwall manager Neil Harris made a number of changes from his side’s 2-1 away defeat to Norwich on New Year’s Day.
With Dave Martin coming in for keeper Jordan Archer, as well as Tony Craig, Ben Thompson, Conor McLaughlin and Fred Onyedinma all returning to the starting line up. Barnsley on the other hand only made 2 changes to their 1-0 win against Sunderland last time out, with Tom Bradshaw and Jason McCarthy coming back into the side.
However, it was the visitors who took the lead after 12 minutes. A moment of poor defending from the home side allowed Tom Bradshaw’s cross to find Brad Potts who calmly fired past home debutant Dave Martin to put the Tykes 1-0 ahead. Barnsley then had the chance to double their advantage soon after, had it not been for Bradshaw or Dimitri Cavaré’s chances going wide.
Barnsley would later rue those missed opportunities as Millwall got back on the front foot and 10 minutes before half time, went level through Aiden O’Brien. A low cross from Jed Wallace found O’Brien to make the score line 1-1, albeit taking a touch from keeper Adam Davies on the way in. The lions were then left scratching their heads as to how they didn’t go 2-1 ahead just before half time. Again, play linking up between Wallace and O’Brien who saw Wallace’s effort go just wide of the far post.
The home side started the second half as they finished the first, strongly. Taking them just 2 minutes into the restart to take the lead. Aiden O’Brien’s low cross across the box picked out Ben Thompson to fire past Davies in front of the home fans to give the hosts the lead. Then, as if it couldn’t go any worse for the Tykes, the away side were reduced the 10 men as Joe Williams was given his marching orders after a dangerous tackle on Jed Wallace was deemed a straight red card.
From then on it was one-way traffic for the hosts and 5 minutes later, Millwall doubled their advantage after Wallace’s volley found O’Brien to tuck away his second from outside the box and Millwall’s third of the afternoon. Soon after, Millwall extended their lead once again after Steve Morison’s neat chip found Fred Onyedinma who after a very strong performance, saw him earn a well deserved goal. Comfortably finishing past Davies from close range.
Millwall had further chances in the game through Jake Cooper and Steve Morison but neither could convert. However, it didn’t put too much of a damper on a very spirited performance from the home side. Barnsley rarely threatened in the second half.
Millwall have now won more FA Cup games than any other team in the Football League since 2003-2004 and go into the hat for Monday’s draw knowing they face the prospect of Premier League opposition. Manager Neil Harris was very pleased with his team’s performance:
“I’m delighted for Aiden. He’s been a goal threat in every game he’s played, he’s been close and denied from goal line clearances and the woodwork. But to get a few today will do his confidence a world of good.”
“I thought the 20 minutes before half time and 20 minutes after half time were the best we’ve played this year.”
However, Barnsley manager Paul Heckingbottom couldn’t hide his disappointment after his side crashed out of the cup in the third round again:
“Although it was 1-1 at half time, I’d felt we’d missed an opportunity and I saw signs where we weren’t defending properly.”
“I’m really disappointed. However, the only saving grace is that there’s not 3 points lost on today’s game.”