Millwall 3-3 Birmingham
9:48pm Tuesday 23rd October 2012 in Latest Sport
MILLWALL threw away a three-goal lead as Marlon King grabbed a hat-trick to rescue a point for Birmingham City.
It looked to be game over early on as the Lions raced clear in the opening 18 minutes through Chris Wood (2) and Chris Taylor.
But King handed the visitors a lifeline in first half stoppage time and it was game on once the striker added his second of the game three minutes after the restart.
The comeback was completed by King on 63 minutes and in fairness a draw was probably the right result, although neither manager will be happy with their defenders.
The Lions made one change from Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Crystal Palace as Liam Feeney came in on for Scott Malone, who was named on the bench.
Birmingham had the first chance on nine minutes when Marlon King sent a curling 20 yard effort inches over David Forde’s bar, although the Lions keeper looked like he would have dealt with it had the attempt been on target.
Darius Henderson just failed to climb high enough Feeney’s inviting cross but the Lions broke the deadlock on 11 minutes when a long Feeney throw in was flicked on by Henderson to Wood, whose header went under Jack Butland.
The Birmingham keeper really should have done better but his night went from bad to worse two minutes later as the hosts quickly doubled their advantage.
Feeney’s delivery wasn’t cleared by the Blues defence, allowing Chris Taylor to pounce and fire past Butland from close range.
Two quickly became three as Wood grabbed his second of the game in the 18th minute.
A Liam Trotter cross into the box took a slight deflection off a Birmingham defender on its way to Wood, who won the initial header and then coolly lifted the ball over Butland.
It is hard to believe Butland is an England international on this evidence, or that Everton are reportedly considering paying top dollar to secure his services in the January transfer window.
Trotter was unfortunate not to get a 31st minute from just inside the area on target after meeting Henderson’s flick on.
It took Birmingham 35 minutes to produce a save from Forde but he was more than a match for wade Elliott’s long range drive.
Wood had a glorious chance to complete a first half hat-trick five minutes before the break after Trotter played him through but the striker lost his footing and fired wide from eight yards.
And Wood went close again moments later with an angled drive which Butland did well to push behind, his first decent save in the game.
The visitors reduced the arrears in stoppage time as King converted Leroy Lita’s low cross from four yards.
Millwall introduced Shane Lowry at the start of the second half in place of Jack Smith and straight away Butland was called into action straight away to prevent Henderson making it 4-1.
Instead Birmingham reduced the arrears to 3-2 on 48 minutes as a low David Murphy cross picked out King, who turned and controlled the ball before shooting past Forde.
So having been completely outplayed for virtually all of the first half, two King strikes either side of the break had somehow got the visitors right back into the contest.
Ravel Morrison blocked Danny Shittu’s effort and Henderson headed straight at Butland from Feeney’s dangerous 58th minute cross as the Lions looked to calm the nerves with another goal.
But it was Birmingham and King who struck next as the striker completed his hat-trick, and Blues’ remarkable recovery, in the 63rd minute.
Murphy was again the provider as his clever assist was smashed home by King from inside the area to stun the disbelieving home fans into silence.
Andy Keogh came on for Feeney but it was Birmingham who went close when Nathan Redmond produced a reaction stop from Forde with a 20 yard shot.
Morrison came to Birmingham’s rescue for the second time in the game by making a vital tackle to deny Keogh an effort on goal.
Trotter’s 82nd minute free-kick caused panic in the visiting defence as Henderson headed the ball back to Keogh, whose shot was deflected behind for a corner.
An 86th minute Millwall attack broke down and Blues quickly countered with King dragging a low shot just wide of Forde’s post.
The Lions went close went close in the 89th minute as Henderson’s free-kick flew past the wall and then inches wide.
Four minutes of stoppage time failed to produce a winner and the referee finally called a halt to what had been a cracking game.
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Millwall: Forde, Dunne, Shittu, Beevers, Smith (Lowry 46), C Taylor, Abdou, Trotter, Feeney (Keogh 66), Wood, Henderson. Subs not used: M Taylor, Osborne, Wright, Malone, N'Guessan, Keogh. Att: