A goal in either half from Thomas Ince left Millwall licking their wounds as they fell to defeat on the opening day of the new Championship season at the hands of Blackpool. For the second successive season the Lions faced beaten play-off finalists on the opening day as Ian Holloway’s Blackpool bagged a thoroughly deserved three points. Despite the home side’s dominance in terms of chances created, they just couldn’t find that elusive goal as Blackpool bettered Millwall in almost every aspect.
Due to sweltering conditions at the Den, there were very little chances for both sides in the opening quarter of an hour. Shortly after however, Millwall had two excellent chances to take the lead. The first a towering header courtesy of Danny Shittu following James Henry’s corner which was blocked on the line. Minutes later the Lions were kicking themselves that they hadn’t opened the scoring through Andy Keogh. An inch-perfect long pass was played into the path of Keogh via Liam Trotter, however despite being through on goal with just the keeper to beat, he could only see his effort blocked by Matt Gilks. Inbetween that, Kevin Phillips had a good chance to score, beating the offside trap but he couldn’t find the finish as his scuffed effort was comfortably kept out.
Millwall came close again, and it would’ve been a wonder goal had it gone in, as Josh Wright’s thumping volley flew inches wide of the target as the Lions began to press. As the game reached the half hour mark, Blackpool began to come into the game more in the final third. Maik Taylor produced a fantastic save to deny Kevin Phillips’ fearsome effort just inside the area. The visitors broke the deadlock on 32 minutes when Phillips and Ince combined as the latter slotted a weak effort into the far corner, a goal which Millwall should’ve dealt with given the amount of players back in their own box.
After the break Millwall should have had an equaliser as Darren Ward flicked the ball towards the back post with a header from Henry’s cross but Keogh’s out-stretched leg couldn’t connect to it. Kenny Jackett was forced to shuffle the pack as defender Jack Smith went off with a pulled thigh. Liam Feeney replaced him as Scott Malone moved to left-back allowing Feeney to play a more attacking role on the wing. Literally seconds later Blackpool had doubled their advantage as Ince brushed off Shane Lowry’s challenge and thumped the ball past Taylor for his second goal of the game.
Following Blackpool’s second goal, Millwall struggled to create many more clear-cut chances as the visitors kept the ball well to run down the clock. Wright worked his way into the box but saw his shot hit the side-netting and Darius Henderson’s header dropped onto the roof of the net as Millwall just couldn’t score. Blackpool’s back four stood firm to take all three points back to Bloomfield Road ahead of Tuesday’s visit of Leeds United. Millwall will have to pick themselves up quickly as they travel to London Road on Tuesday night to play Peterborough United.