Match Report: Millwall 1 Sheffield Wednesday 1

The incident which resulted in two red cards
The incident which resulted in two red cards

Giles Coke was sent off after scoring his first goal of the season and helping to extend Stuart Gray’s unbeaten run to nine games in a stormy clash at Millwall.

oke and Lions defender Shane Lowry were shown the red card after an 87th-minute fracas that also resulted in bookings for Stephen Bywater and Atdhe Nuhiu.

A scuffle developed after an incident near a corner flag. But play restarted with a free-kick to Wednesday and the melee was followed by eight minutes of added time.

Coke, on as a 59th-minute sub, had fired the Owls into a 68th-minute lead but DJ Campbell, on his debut after signing on loan from Blackburn, equalised in the 80th minute.

Wednesday battled all the way and richly deserved their point. Stuart Gray fielded a system comprising three centre-halves for the first time, with Miguel Llera coming into the side to the left of Glenn Loovens and Oguchi Onyewu. and Jeremy Helan and Liam Palmer pushing forward as wing-backs.

Chris Magure was switched up front to partner Atdhe Nuhiu.

The 3-5-2 seemed a way of combating Millwall’s numerical strength in midfield.

But the Owls were pierced twice in the opening 13 minutes as Lee Martin arrived from deep, first to be denied a shot by an interception from Palmer, then losing a one-on-one with Chris Kirkland.

Nuhiu missed the Owls’ first chance, and what a splendid goal it would have been.

Helan intercepted a square ball by Millwall inside his own half and made a brilliant run at full pelt, beating one man then another and playing an inviting high ball into the middle where Nuhiu headed over the bar from five yards.

An ambitious and wayward shot by the Austrian soon after that brought him further scorn from home fans. Then it was Maguire who failed to make use of another excellent run and cross by Helan. The Scot controlled the ball and blasted it over the top.

After the couple of very early scares, Wednesday looked comfortable and as hard-working as usual and had the capacity to break forward.

Llera brought home supporters’ ire down on his head for twice being hurt when Martin was late in challenges on him - the outcome a deserved booking for the Lions man.

Captain Glenn Loovens stayed off at half-time and Gray had to switch to a back four, with Helan at left-back. Maguire and sub Caolan Lavery started in wide positions, and Nuhiu was the sole central striker.

The second half began similarly to the first - with a fright for the 1,049 away fans who were now behind Stephen Bywater’s goal.

Centre-forward Steve Morison got in a dipping header and Kirkland, with his second important save of the match, clawed it away from the top corner.

Bywater nearly gifted his old club a goal three minutes later. He fumbled an effort from Lavery, the ball looked very close to crossing the line, and the keeper knocked the ball away from Nuhiu before he could force it home.

Substitutions were not long in coming as Gray and opposite number Ian Holloway both tried to swing this tight contest their way.

Stephen McPhail, who had not been able to get on the ball as much as he would like, made way for Cokes in midfield.

Millwall’s new signings, Campbell and Shaun Williams, came into the attack and midfield respectively.

When the home team mounted a spell of pressure, Wednesday defended with their now customary steel.

It was more in hope than justification when home fans screamed for a penalty over a challenge by Maguire on Scott Malone.

Then the game seesawed in the space of two minutes.

Morison ran into space in the box and teed up Campbell, but, sliding forward, the sub jabbed a chance wide.

The Owls’ response was to grab the lead almost immediately. Coke, put through down the middle, calmly rounded Bywater and slotted the ball into the empty net.

Two minutes later it was almost 2-0. Maguire delivered a corner and Llera’s header brushed the top of the bar via a deflection.

The home crowd were clutching at straws when again they roared in vain for penalty.

This time the contact in the box was between Palmer and Campbell.

But Lions pressure told. A Liam Trotter effort came back off the woodwork and Campbell headed home in the 80th minute.

The late red-card incident stoked up the crowd and they screamed for handball by Kirkland outside his area, but he used his chest.

Gray had made four changes, with Joe Mattock banned and Damian Martinez, Jacques Maghoma and Caolan Lavery moved to the bench.

The subs included young midfielder Jack Stobbs. There were recalls for Kirkland, Helan, Stephen McPhail and Llera.

Ex-Owls keeper Bywater started for the first time since August.

Former Wednesday centre-half Mark Beevers was on the Millwall bench for the fourth successive game.

Wednesday played for the first time in a third kit of white shirts and blue shorts because their home strip and the away one of black would both have clashed with the Lions’ navy.

GoalS: Coke 69 (Wednesday); Campbell 80 (Millwall).

LIONS: Bywater 6, Fredericks 7, Shittu 7, Lowry 7, Malone 7, Trotter 7 Bailey 6 (Williams 60, 6), Keogh 6 (Campbell 56, 6), Woolford 7, Martin 6 (Feeney 60, 6), Morison 7. Subs not used: Gerrar, Dunne, Beevers, Marquis.

OWLS: Kirkland 7, Palmer 7, Onyewu 8, Loovens 7 (Lavery h-t, 6), Llera 7, Maguire 7, Lee 7, Semedo 7, McPhail 6 (Coke 59, 7), Helan 7, Nuhiu 7. Subs not used: Martinez, Maghoma, McCabe, Corry, Stobbs.

Bookings: Martin 44, Bywater 86 (Millwall); Nuhiu 86 (Wednesday).

Sendings-off: Coke 87 (Wednesday); Lowry 87 (Millwall).

Referee: Lee Probert (Wiltshire)

ATTENDANCE: 10,624 (1,049)