“Your dad always said that one day Del Boy would reach the top ……. then again, he used to say that one day Millwall would win the cup”
The fact that Millwall’s record in the FA Cup was used as a punchline in Only Fools And Horses, it’s fair to say it’s not very good.
The closest they came was reaching the final in 2004. It was a veteran of that campaign, Tim Cahill, who was the talk of the ground prior to kick-off, as he was in discussions to rejoin the club, in a bid to get match fit for this Summer’s World Cup.
That signing was eventually confirmed on the Monday night after this game.
They have had FA Cup runs in recent years, reaching the Semi-Final in 2013, and the Quarter-Finals in 2017.
That Quarter-Final last year was the last FA Cup tie at White Hart Lane, but Millwall won’t have fond memories of that game, with Spurs running out 6-0 winners.
I was in London that weekend, so decided I would take in a game. It was the weekend of the FA Cup 4th Round, so there were no Premier League games scheduled, with games in the other Leagues scheduled, some of which were postponed to accomodate FA Cup ties.
On of those, was Millwall’s game at home to Derby, which I had my eye on. Brentford were playing Norwich in The Championship, while Leyton Orient were at home to Aldershot in the National League, or Vauxhall Conference if you’re old school like me.
I’d already been to Leyton Orient (in 2014) so wanted a bit of variety, while Brentford didn’t have tickets on general sale (to discourage away fans buying for the home end) so Millwall it was. Tickets only being £15 also helped swing the deal, as was the fact that i’d never been to an FA Cup tie.
I’d hoped to go to the 2nd Round Replay between Crewe Alexandra and Blackburn Rovers when I was in Manchester, but that was postponed due to the weather.
Also appealing, was the fact that Millwall have three Northern Ireland players – Shane Ferguson, Conor McLaughlin and George Savile. That was a fiver per Ulsterman.
However, only Ferguson would start the game.
I’d previously seen Milwall before, taking in their League One game against Bury when I was in Manchester in November 2016. I hadn’t seen Rochdale despite my frequent visits to the North-West. I would have taken in their 2nd Round tie if it went to a replay, but it didn’t.
Getting to the ground was easy, an Overground Station was a signposted five minute walk away.
I’m only enough to remember when Millwall’s ground, opened in 1993, was known as The New Den. Now it is known simply as The Den.
Millwall might be looking for a New New Den, due to a dispute with Lewisham Council over land around The Den.
Rochdale were straight on the attack from kick-off, Millwall goalkeeper David Martin being concerned while catching a cross in the opening minute. By this part, Leyton Orient were already 1-0 up. I was wondering if i’d made the right choice of game.
Shane Ferguson had Millwall’s first attacking moment of the game with a run and cross, but The Wee Derry Fella’s cross evaded those in the box.
It was another run which brought Millwall’s first goal, this time by Fred Onyedinma, as he was brought down for a clear penalty. Jed Wallace converted, and it looked like Millwall were set for a routine against their League One opponents.
The “Past Meetings” feature in the matchday programme didn’t have a lot of material to work with, their only recent meetings coming when Millwall were in League One. Rochdale weren’t intimidated by the one division difference, and were very much in the game.
A lovely passing move played in Ian Henderson to finish. It was a goal from the moment it left his foot. There was a small applause from some fans around me, acknowledging that it was a decent goal, before asking questions of their own team.
Rochdale were the better team at the start of the second-half, and were rewarded with a goal when a Andy Cannon shot was deflected goalwards. It was going in but Matt Done tapped it in to make sure, and Rochdale were 2-1 up.
The Rochdale fans behind the goal celebrated. Unfortunately for them, they couldn’t get to celebrate wiht their team, due to being in the Upper Tier of the stand.
It always struck me as a bit of a crap matchday experience being stuck up there, but not that the Rochdale fans cared, with their team now heading for the 5th Round.
Tom Elliott seemed to have most of Millwall’s chances, but was having “One of those days”.
As the minutes ticked, it looked like Rochdale were going to hold on for a deserved win, until Ben Thompson’s low finish just as the injury time board was about to make an appearance.
Milwall fans were frustrated throughout the game, but were relieved to get a replay.
The draw for the 5th Round produced a juicy prize on offer for the winner of this tie.
They didn’t know who they’d play, but they’d be at home.
It was either Newport County, from a lower division and representing a great chance to reach the Quarter-Finals, or a glamour tie against Tottenham Hotspur.
Rochdale won the replay of this tie 1-0. Spurs beat Newport 2-0.
Rochdale are only two wins away from Wembley, but a draw in their 5th Round time would be enough to take them there.