Terry Pierce - No fear for Millwall in the Championship
Published: 31 May 2010 - 12:26:37
So the curtain fell on the domestic season over the weekend, with the League One and Two play-off finals providing the encore.
And it was Millwall and Dagenham & Redbridge who left the stage as heroes, securing promotion in two very different Wembley wins.
On Saturday, in front of more than 73,000 fans, the Lions returned to Wembley a year after throwing away a two-goal lead on the same stage.
And their experience paid as they handled the occasion far better than opponents Swindon, who seemed to freeze in the first half as the Londoners ran riot.
However, Kenny Jackett's side could only score once during their period of dominance, and the Robins were re-invigorated after the break.
But a combination of superb defending and a lack of guile restricted the Robins to a handful of chances, and the infamous Wembley pitch put paid to their best opportunity, with Charlie Austin missing a sitter after a terrible bobble.
And that was the moment. The split second the Wiltshire sides chance of promotion slipped away as the belief died and the game petered out.
The Lions' patience over the past three seasons has paid off, and the club has improved year on year.
And Jackett deserves a great deal of credit. His side is solid defensively, with goal-scorer Paul Robinson and Darren Ward an outstanding pair at the back.
It's upon these solid foundations that the former Swansea boss has built his success. Over the three play-off games they restricted two good attacking sides, Huddersfield and Swindon, to barely a sniff at goal.
On top of that, they are dangerous going forward, with Steve Morison developing into a quality striker.
They will now go into the Championship with the club motto ringing in their ears. We fear no foe it proudly states, and they will fear no-one in the second tier.
As for Danny Wilson's Swindon, the emphasis now turns to another campaign in League One and while they were unfancied this season, they will be expected to challenge again come August.
And they can take heart from the manner in which their victors bounced back from play-off pain to seal promotion 12 months later.
That's for the future though. Right now, it's Millwall who are buzzing ahead of a return to the second tier and over the last two seasons they certainly deserve it.
Still different class
In other news, 10 years ago the Daggers were a non-league side and played Premiership side Charlton in the FA Cup.
Now, after an incredible decade culminating in yesterday's fantastic 3-2 victory in the League Two play-off final, they will welcome the Addicks to Victoria Road again.
Only this time it will be for a league fixture, and it will cap one of the most remarkable football stories of recent times.
All thanks to John Still. A one-time player, life-long fan and now legendary manager.
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- FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:terry pierce
- Terry was born and bred in Wiltshire, and is a massive Swindon fan - travelling the length of the country most weekends to watch the 'mighty' Reds. He also manages a successful(ish) Sunday league side, and his life pretty much revolves around football. Five-year-old Terry was in the crowd when Swindon won promotion to the Premier League in 1993 with a 4-3 play-off win against Leicester. He cried after every goal. Read Terry's thoughts every week on life outside the Premier League. Follow Terry on Twitter @telpierce.
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