Millwall 1-1 Swansea: Bartosz Bialkowski own goal earns point for Swans
Report and highlights from the Sky Bet Championship clash at The Den
By Dan Long
Last Updated: 30/06/20 8:34pm
Millwall and Swansea's hopes of reaching the Championship play-offs took a hit as they played out a 1-1 draw at The Den on Tuesday evening.
A first goal for on-loan Derby winger Mason Bennett set the Lions on their way in the first half (21), but an own goal from goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski helped Rhian Brewster's sublime free-kick over the line to earn a draw for Steve Cooper's side (66).
The result in south east London means that ninth-placed Swansea now sit four points outside the top six, with Millwall a point behind them with just six games of the season left to play.
How Millwall and Swansea's play-off dreams were dented
Questions had been asked of Millwall's ability to perform at The Den without the intense atmosphere created by their fans, but in his pre-match interview with Sky Sports' Caroline Barker, Lions boss Gary Rowett called upon his team to play with freedom in order to edge closer to the top six.
His players appeared to heed that advice and had the lead midway through the first period, when Bennett drove through the middle of the park, dropped the ball off to Jed Wallace on his right-hand side and then swept the return ball over the line with aplomb.
The Lions had a lower share of possession but managed the game well and there was little panic even when Liverpool loanee Brewster's close-range effort was expertly hooked over the top of the crossbar by Jake Cooper.
Millwall started the second half on the front foot, but their opponents improved and went close when Conor Gallagher's dipping effort was saved by Bialkowski.
Soon after, they got back on level terms in style. Shaun Hutchinson conceded a free-kick just outside the area after a heavy challenge on Gallagher, allowing Brewster to delightfully curl a shot in off the underside of the crossbar; the only downside was the inadvertent touch from the stopper that took it over the line.
Rowett introduced top scorer Matt Smith for the last few minutes, but the final chance of the game dropped to defender Murray Wallace, who nodded the hosts' 12th corner of the game against the base of the post.
Man of the match - Murray Wallace
He could do nothing about conceding the equaliser after Brewster's superb free-kick, so Wallace will no doubt be disappointed that he could not cap a good evening from a defensive perspective with a goal at the other end, where he spurned good opportunities from several Millwall corners.
What the managers said...
Millwall's Gary Rowett: "I think we can still make it. In this division two or three wins changes the whole outlook very quickly. At the moment my thought process is, we are tinged with still trying to get something out of this season and also learning some things for next season. That will be a real challenge because we want both. We've done everything we could to win the game and, until we're out of it, we'll keep fighting.
"We need our fans here. They give us that 20 minutes of pressure which other teams struggle to cope with. Our fans give us a lift. I know other teams do the same, but we're a unique club in that sense. What I would say is it makes you realise how important our fans are to us."
Swansea's Steve Cooper: "We have to keep going and keep believing. Yes we need to get better with game management and get better with looking after the ball late in games, but we will always strive to be better because there is always something to improve on. We won't give up.
"[Brewster] practises them every day and his returns are good. I have seen him do it on many occasions and you do fancy them. It was a brilliant goal."
Both sides are back in action in front of the Sky Sports cameras this weekend. Millwall face south east London rivals Charlton on Friday at 8.15pm, while Swansea host Sheffield Wednesday at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday at midday.