Lions break hoodoo
Millwall taste play-off glory at sixth attempt
Last Updated: 30/05/10 3:41pm
Robinson: Crucial goal
Millwall sealed their place in the Championship next season after clinching a 1-0 victory over Swindon in the League One play-off final.
The Lions produced a steely performance on a gloomy afternoon at Wembley, displaying solid defence after the break following Paul Robinson's first-half goal.
Both sides had plenty of chances in what was at times a nail-biting Wembley encounter but the Robins failed to find their target as Millwall piled on the pressure.
The scoresheet was blank until the 39th minute when Robinson picked up a Danny Schofield corner in the penalty area and neatly clipped it into the back of the net.
Millwall then executed concrete defending to maintain their lead in the second half and consequently seal promotion to the second tier.
The victory - in front of 73,108 fans - went some way to banishing the memory of five previous play-off defeats for Millwall, who were left celebrating a return to England's second tier following their relegation in 2006.
Lions boss Kenny Jackett stressed ahead of the encounter that "there is something in football, and life, in persistence" and his class of 2010 have proved just that.
And although it was despair for Swindon at the final whistle, their 12-month transformation from relegation contenders to promotion nearly-men under manager Danny Wilson deserves plenty of credit.
Millwall went into the clash without player of the year Alan Dunne, who had failed to recover from a foot injury, while Swindon were also missing influential captain Gordon Greer due to suspension.
And it was the Lions who looked the livelier up front in the opening exchanges, 23-goal leading scorer Steve Morison coming closest to breaking the deadlock after 17 minutes when his delicate chip beat David Lucas but drifted just inches over the crossbar.
Swindon finally settled somewhat midway through the half and an unmarked Lescinel Jean-Francois came within inches of connecting with Alan Sheehan's free-kick to the far post.
Kevin Amankwaah, a target of the Millwall boo-boys following his verbal spat with Neil Harris earlier in the season, inadvertently headed into his own net soon after only to see his error then ruled out for offside, much to the obvious joy of the 34,000-odd travelling Robins contingent.
But the half's defining moment came six minutes before the break as Robinson handed Millwall what proved to be the winner.
Swindon started on the front foot after the break although both sides were creating half-chances.
The second half was proving to be a much more open and even affair.
Town defender Jean-Francois came close to levelling when he saw his header well kept out by the diving David Forde, while Morison then fired straight at Lucas at the other end when he really should have done better.
But Swindon's best chance of the game arrived in the 72nd minute when Austin pounced on Robinson's mis-guided header to find himself clean through.
But the ball bounced up off the much-maligned Wembley turf just as the 20-year-old was about to shoot and his effort was uncharacteristically directed horribly wide.
Morison could have put the final beyond doubt in the last 15 minutes but he wasted a couple of great openings.And it was left for Forde to deny Austin with a last-ditch save deep into the injury time to send Swindon's players to the ground and Millwall into the Championship.
|Millwall||Team Statistics||Swindon Town|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|8||Shots on Target||2|
|10||Shots off Target||6|
Sky Bet League 1
|13||Milton Keynes Dons||0||0|
|18||Preston North End||0||0|