FA Cup Fifth Round Proper
Leicester City 0
The New Den
Police on horseback, Stone Island clothing, flat caps and The Den can mean just one thing, Millwall Football Club.
Most people I had told about this game were wary of my trip, I was a bit unsure about what to expect but I was excited to be heading to Millwall for the second time.
I last visited the Den on a Crewe Alex away day and don’t really remember there being much trouble. It was the FA Cup and we had drawn the game, forcing a replay. Just a couple of weeks earlier Crewe had played them in the league, Millwall fans had bricked the supporters bus as they left the ground, but on my trip, nothing was too intimidating back in 2009.
My trip was made easier when two of my friends from university said they were going. I met John and Grant for lunch by the river before getting a train from London Bridge to South Bermondsey. A quality catch up with a couple of guys I had not seen since graduating.
It was at South Bermondsey station that I knew we were at a Millwall game. Police lined the exit, diverting fans depending on whether you were home or away down different walkways, the organisation made it feel fairly organised and risk free. We passed a couple of old ladies in Millwall shirts, not intimidating at all and if they were going, I was sure to be left well alone.
It was busy around the ground, there was a buzz about the place as the Champions of England were coming to the Den and a ‘Cupset’ was well and truly possible.
What a shambles of a place, never have I been so dissatisfied by the efforts of stewards and staff alike. Starting in the club shop, a queue snaking around the store, staff were more interested in talking about their night out the night before than customer service. Once I had got out of the sweatbox of the club shop, one steward couldn’t even tell me which way I could walk to get to the stand I was sitting in.
Once in the ground I was pretty content, the sun was shining, making it a pleasant February afternoon to be watching football, I also had my sunglasses which was a lifesaver.
The ground itself is pretty basic, two tiered all the way round and very symmetrical, not much character at all. There is little in terms of description for the place, blue seats, pretty generic, no corners filled in. I did like the fact that there was a merchandise kiosk inside the ground and little extra kiosks open around the outside of the stadium (if only I had seen that before I queued in the main store).
In terms of my seat, I was left well and truly disappointed, a yellow rail was obscuring my view, something that should have been flagged when I purchased my ticket. That said I wasn’t prepared for the obstructions that I was to suffer once the game kicked off.
People stood on the stairs! What a shambles, they must have a seat but the steward in my block wasn’t fussed in the slightest about helping them to the seats, instead he told them to stand there, meaning I couldn’t see without standing up. Eventually they sat on the stairs, only to be told my safety officers that they needed to stand up. At half time, the steward fed me some rubbish about plastic season ticket cards and paper tickets for the cup meaning that people had doubled up on seats, he then wasn’t too fussed when I alerted him to two blokes smoking in the stand.
I was having a torrid time seeing the game (picture below) and spent most of my time stood up, I don’t mind standing at football, but when I have a seat I quite like to use it.
It is safe to say I will be avoiding this place and have no intentions of ever going back. The fans are vile too, kids as young as five swearing and gesturing to the away fans and poor language throughout, not a family club but I guess Millwall wont care too much about that as the ‘No one likes us, we don’t care’ chant echoes around the ground.
Shaun Cummings’ last minute winner put ten men Millwall into the last eight of the FA Cup, knocking out Premier League Champions Leicester City.
The League One club, who had seen off AFC Bournemouth and Watford to reach round five made it a hat-trick of top flight scalps when defender Cummings poked the ball into the back of the net with minutes left on the clock.
Jordan Archer was in fine form in the home goal and his first save of note denied Shinji Okazaki with a header at the near post from a corner.
Leicester were applying some early pressure but the Lions stayed firm and managed to deal with the constant threat and pace in the Foxes front line.
Ahmed Musa, Demarai Gray and Okazaki always looked dangerous on the break as Leicester were taking a hold of the game.
Callum Butcher had a great chance for Neil Harris’ Millwall when he rose highest in the box and sent a header straight into the arms of Ron-Robert Zieler.
As half time approached, there was an incident in the Leicester penalty area which ended in Jake Cooper picking up a yellow card for kicking Zieler who had pounced on the loose ball before taking Cooper’s boot to the ribs.
The home side were reduced to ten men on 52 minutes when Leicester attacked on the break with Bartosz Kapustka played the ball to Musa who was caught late by Cooper who upended the Nigeria international and received his second yellow.
Two minutes later, Millwall were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box and Zieler was awarded a yellow card for handling outside the area, however the set piece came to nothing.
There was a spirit and fight in the Millwall team, determined to not let the numerical advantage play against them as they looked like they wanted a goal more than their opponents.
Shaun Williams went close with a long range effort which dipped and moved in transit but straight into the hands of Zieler.
Claudio Ranieri made three changes in quick succession including attacking duo Marc Albrighton and England international Jamie Vardy.
Leicester went close with ten minutes left on the clock as Albrighton swung in a free kick and Okazaki looked certain to score but Archer managed to get his body in the way to keep the ball out as a replay looked likely.
City were piling men forward but Millwall were spirited and definitely had the fans right behind them as the clock ticked closer to the 90.
The Den erupted in the final minute of normal time when Cummings exchanged passes with Fred Onyedima and Lee Gregory, continuing his run into the box to poke home an unlikely winner for the team two leagues below their counterparts and booking Millwall’s spot in the quarter finals.
2016/17 Games: 92
2016/17 Grounds: 53 (9)
Total Grounds Visited: 150 (40)