Birmingham 0-1 Millwall: Fred Onyedinma goal earns Lions deserved win
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 17/02/18 6:57pm
Substitute Fred Onyedinma earned Millwall a 1-0 Sky Bet Championship win at Birmingham.
Onyedinma's goal completed the Lions' first double over Birmingham in 19 years and inflicted a third successive defeat on Blues in their battle to avoid relegation.
They had been keen to rectify their poor performance in the local derby against Aston Villa last week but their display left a great deal to be desired and they wasted a good opportunity to improve their precarious league position.
Birmingham enjoyed most of the early possession but Millwall, now unbeaten in six league matches, capably contained the Midlands side.
The Lions relied on breakaway attacks and could have capitalised in the 13th minute when Marc Roberts made a bad mistake attempting to make a clearance. Jed Wallace eventually gained possession and fired in a sharp drive which Birmingham's goalkeeper David Stockdale had to save flinging himself to his left.
From the following corner, Steve Morison managed to fire in a close-range shot only for Craig Gardner to make a goal-line clearance.
Millwall were dangerous on their occasional attacks and George Saville was only just off target with a snapshot.
It became a frustrating exercise for Birmingham as they failed to regain the initiative when they were often guilty of needless back passes to goalkeeper Stockdale.
Sam Gallagher was their lone striker and this safety-first tactic was hardly conducive to breaking down a no-nonsense Millwall defence. Three times they had to rely upon long-range efforts from Gardner, none of which found the target.
There was no great improvement in the second half when Birmingham's Maikel Kieftenbeld collected his 10th booking of the season and now faces a suspension.
Millwall's could have broken the deadlock in the 66th minute when Maxime Colin's clearance was blocked into the path of Morison, but the Lions skipper snapped at his shot which went into the side netting.
The vital goal came in the 77th minute when Roberts failed to make contact with a high ball. The tenacious Onyedinma had one effort blocked but his persistence paid off as he forced the ball home from close range despite three defenders attempting to block his effort.
Steve Cotterill: "We couldn't get any tempo going in the game. This surprised me as I've not previously seen such a lack of tempo.
"We didn't play with enough zip or enthusiasm and this is what disappointed me. We didn't play badly but we didn't perform anywhere near the level we have previously achieved. We looked flat and the ground was quiet with no atmosphere."
"We need to go on another good run but it has never been plain-sailing. Unfortunately it is going to be topsy-turvy for the rest of the season."
Neil Harris: "Fred is young with a lot of ability and he is going to be in and out of the team. He understands this situation. But he is a real handful for any team.
"I was a little critical of our first-half performance. The second half was much better with a really good goal and we could have had two of three more.
"Defensively we were strong as a unit and we obtained the goal that mattered. I'm really pleased with a clean sheet.
"It's three wins in a row on the road, which isn't bad for a team which couldn't win away from home at the start of the season."