Wells nets winner on debut
Club record signing Nahki Wells netted a dramatic winner on debut to secure Town’s first three points of 2014.
The Bermudian volleyed first time past David Forde with just two minutes of normal time remaining to earn Town a hard fought victory.
The game was heading towards a bore draw with Millwall doing excellently to thwart the Terriers. David Forde was leading by example for the Lions, twice denying Martin Paterson in the first half.
They also had the best chance of the game before Wells’ winner when former Town loanee Scott McDonald hit the post.
It wasn’t to be though for Ian Holloway, who had to watch on as Wells delivered to send the Town faithful home happy.
James Vaughan (knee) and Joel Lynch (hip) were again absent from Town’s starting line-up, whilst record-signing from Nahki Wells was on the bench.
Millwall started with a high line at the back, with chances likely to come if Town could effectively time their runs behind.
Danny Ward was the first to break through, running down the left in the third minute, but his cross was too heavy for Martin Paterson.
Jonathan Hogg then found himself in space, laying the ball off to Ward whose strike came off Alan Dunne, but straight into the hands of David Forde in the Millwall goal.
After 8 minutes, Ward again found space on the left and tried a cheeky chip over Forde, but his effort was marginally past the far post.
Three minutes later, Adam Clayton was caught in possession from Alex Smithies’ pass. Millwall had plenty of bodies forward, but Lee Martin could not beat Clayton who recovered well.
Oliver Norwood was then caught napping in midfield and his tame back pass went straight to Steve Morison, but his finish was less than convincing, straight into the hands of Alex Smithies.
Adam Hammill was lively again on the right and on 26 minutes, his trickery pulled two defenders across but his final ball could not beat Alan Dunne.
On the half-hour mark, Adam Clayton’s free kick was not dealt with by the Millwall defence and Tommy Smith’s inviting ball into the box fell to Martin Paterson, but his effort was well saved by Forde from point-blank range.
Adam Clayton then played a ball through to Paterson who struck with his left foot, but Forde was again able to match it. The ball fell straight to Ward on the edge of the box, but his tame right-footed effort was well-wide.
Scott McDonald was the next to have an effort, and with Smithies left standing, his effort crashed against the foot of the post via a Town defender. Chaplow played the ball back in and Morison arrived at the back post, but Smithies was equal to the frontman’s header.
The first real chance of the second half came when Hammill found space on the edge of the box with some neat footwork, but when he eventually unleashed a shot it was wide of the post.
The Terriers were at times sloppy in defence though, and twice Millwall nearly pinched the ball, but Town were just able to hang on.
Town were beginning to get frustrated, and made an attacking double change replacing Ward and Hogg for Duane Holmes and new man Nahki Wells.
Andy Keogh came on for the visitors, and Morrison’s flick-on found the former Leeds man whose effort whizzed past Smithies’ far post on 68 minutes.
On 73 minutes, some neat play from Millwall in midfield allowed Richard Chaplow to find substitute Liam Trotter who could only find the side netting.
At the other end, Duane Holmes sent a tasty looking delivery into the box, but it was dealt with by Shane Lowry before Paterson could get to it in front of an open goal.
Time was running out and frustration was growing around the John Smith’s Stadium, with Millwall’s defence tightly knit as they looked to close down the game.
But in the 90th minute, a long ball from Adam Clayton was unintentionally flicked on by Jack Smith into the path of Nahki Wells, and the 23-year-old caressed the ball into the corner of the Millwall goal.
Town’s team (3-5-2):
Alex Smithies (c); Murray Wallace, Anthony Gerrard, Tommy Smith; Paul Dixon, Jonathan Hogg (Duane Holmes, 56), Adam Clayton, Oliver Norwood, Adam Hammill; Martin Paterson (Sean Scannell, 87), Danny Ward (Nahki Wells, 56)
Ian Bennett, Calum Woods, Oscar Gobern, Keith Southern
Bookings Millwall: Shane Lowry 13, Nicky Bailey 30, Jack Smith 53