Bradford City 0-1 Millwall: League One play-off final – as it happened

20 May 2017 04:03
5.03pm BST That’s about it for today’s liveblog. Congratulations to Millwall, who have closed the book on last year’s agony. Thanks for your company, night! Related: Steve Morison fires Millwall past Bradford and into the Championship 5.02pm BST Steve Morison is being interviewedMorison: “It’s brilliant. This is annoying me, I can’t focus. They’ve ruined it for me right now, absolutely ruined it [I assume he means the fans on the pitch rather than the tannoy telling them to get off]. We played poor but we’ll celebrate tonight. The Championship is where we wanna be, and we’ll have a good crack.” 4.57pm BST Now there’s a mass pitch invasion. Neil Harris asks them to get off the pitch, but there’s no chance of that. He’s really angry. 4.56pm BST Steve Morison, the oldest man on the pitch, has put Millwall back in the Championship with a terrific late finish. It’s a wonderful moment for Millwall and their manager Neil Harris, especially after defeat in last year’s final. Bradford played some high-class football but tired as the match progressed. Harris said he wanted “a Millwall performance”. He got that in the last half an hour. It was a triumph of the human spirit from a team who somehow, after 60-odd games this season, found something extra in their legs. 4.54pm BST MILLWALL ARE BACK IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP! 4.54pm BST 90+5 min What a chance for McMahon! A loose ball broke to him just outside the six-yard box, at a very tight angle, but instead of drilling it across goal he smashed it wildly into the side netting. 4.52pm BST 90+3 min Bradford look shot. Cullen needlessly fouls Onyedinma, which will allow Millwall to waste more time. 4.51pm BST 90+2 min Millwall repel a series of balls into the box, with Hutchinson to the fore. Great defending. 4.49pm BST 90+1 min There will be five minutes of added agony for both sets of supporters. The ecstasy comes after. 4.48pm BST 90 min Another Millwall change: Gregory off, Calum Butcher on. 4.47pm BST 89 min Fred Onyedinma replaces Jed Wallace for Millwall, who are so close to the Championship. 4.46pm BST 88 min Cullen plays a good ball to Jones, who wins a corner off Williams. 4.45pm BST I think Morison was fractionally offside, but the flag didn’t go up. A cross from the left by the tireless Williams - who started the move by intercepting Marshall’s pass in his own half - was acrobatically headed across goal by the diving Gregory, and Morison got on the wrong side to Dieng to ping a volley high into the net from six yards. It was a brilliant finish on the stretch. 4.44pm BST The big man has done it for Millwall! 4.42pm BST 83 min Wallace wins Millwall’s umpteenth corner of the match. Ferguson stands it up under the crossbar and the referee gives a foul against the keeper Doyle. 4.41pm BST 82 min That’s better from Bradford, a lovely passing move involving Dieng, Cullen and Marshall. Eventually McMahon crossed to his fellow full-back Meredith, who headed wide of the far post from 15 yards. It was a quarter-chance. 4.39pm BST 79 min The under-pressure Vincelot gives the ball away in a dangerous area to Wallace, who guides it into Morison. He gets it out of his feet, 15 yards from goal, and sweeps a shot that is crucially blocked by McArdle. The ball runs loose and McArdle scrambles it behind for a corner. 4.36pm BST 79 min “I am trying,” says Kevin Ryan, “to imagine a feminist book club’s bowling night blessed with the presence of the likes of Walter Sobchak, Jesus Quintana and of the course The Dude. The mind boggles!” 4.35pm BST 78 min Millwall look like the team with more left in their legs. Bradford have struggled even to let the ball do the work in the last 10 minutes. 4.34pm BST 76 min Wallace bounces to the ground off Meredith, who is booked. I’m not sure Meredith could have done much to get out of the way. 4.32pm BST 74 min A double change for Bradford: Alex Jones and Timothee Dieng replace Billy Clarke and Nicky Law. 4.30pm BST 72 min This is Millwall’s best spell of the match, in terms of sustained possession. Bradford haven’t seen much of the ball in the last five or ten minutes. 4.29pm BST 71 min “As a Derby fan with post-2013 stress disorder,” chirps David Hopkins, “I can confirm that a team dominating without having scored should definitely be the more nervous.” 4.28pm BST 70 min The first substitution is made by Millwall: Shane Ferguson replaces Aiden O’Brien. 4.27pm BST 68 min “The more this goes on, the more the cold stash of Sapporo reduces,” says John Ashburne. “If it goes to penalties I’ve just about enough time to rush out and get my own personal, lonely half-crate. And offer up a prayer to the handily placed shrine.” You’ll have time before extra-time, should it go that far. They take an age to restart. 4.25pm BST 67 min Ten months’ work comes down to the next 25 minutes (plus extra time and penalties if necessary). 4.24pm BST 65 min McMahon curls another free-kick from the right onto the head of McArdle, who again heads over from six yards. He was in less space but was able to get over the ball, and as such might feel he should have scored. 4.22pm BST 64 min Bradford haven’t dominated the second half as they did the first, though they are still having more possession. It’s so hard to call. 4.20pm BST 61 min Wallace misses an excellent chance for Millwall! Gregory beat a couple of players just past the halfway line and angled an excellent through pass to Wallace. He had to take the shot first time on the run and sidefooted tamely wide from the edge of the box. That was Millwall’s best chance by a long way. 4.18pm BST 60 min Millwall haven’t had a shot on target yet. In a weird way, I’d be more worried about that stat if I was supporting Bradford. 4.17pm BST 59 min McMahon’s free-kick is headed over from six yards by the unmarked McArdle! He just couldn’t get over the top of the ball to steer it towards goal, and in that sense it was a harder chance than it looked. 4.15pm BST 58 min Another penetrative run infield from Marshall is ended by a foul from O’Brien, who is booked. 4.14pm BST 55 min “I am said Bradford-supporting friend who missed a football match for a bowling night,” says Jim Bach. “I should point out that it wasn’t just a bowling night, it was a fundraiser for women’s health options and I had pledged to participate.”The moral of this story? Good causes > banter. 4.12pm BST 54 min A corner to Millwall, who have started this half with plenty of attacking purpose. Williams swings it in from the right and it’s headed clear. 4.10pm BST 52 min A long ball is headed down by Gregory to Morison, who drags his first-time shot wide from 25 yards. 4.09pm BST 51 min At the other end, McArdle makes a vital tackle on Gregory, who would otherwise have been clear on goal after running onto a good pass from Wallace. 4.08pm BST 50 min Cullen’s cross hits Webster and rebounds to Meredith, who lashes a low shot that is kicked away by one of a posse of Millwall defenders on the six-yard line. 4.05pm BST 47 min Marshall makes ground down the right and wins an early corner for Bradford. It’s overhit. 4.03pm BST 46 min Peep peep! Bradford begin the second half, kicking from right to left as I look on my television screen. 3.59pm BST “Sorry, I couldn’t let this [aggression] stand,” says Daniel Barnett. “’Shabbos’ refers to the Sabbath day. ‘Shomer Shabbos’ refers to an individual who ‘keeps’ the Sabbath, and so wouldn’t bowl or get into fights with German nihilists on Shabbos, from sundown on Friday to after nightfall on Saturday. So what you really wanted to say was, ‘Not on Shabbos, I hope.’”This is the single greatest witch-hunt of an MBMer in Guardian history! 3.50pm BST “Hi Rob,” says Graham Randall. “I have just taken great delight in pointing out to my Bradford-supporting friend that they are the purist and hipster choice. This is the same friend who missed a Columbus game to go to his feminist book club’s bowling night.”Not on Shommer Shabbos, I hope. 3.48pm BST There haven’t been many chances but that was a fascinating half, with multiple momentum shifts and a nice contrast between Bradford’s passing and Millwall’s power. See you in 10 minutes for the second half. 3.47pm BST 45+1 min Morison has started to impose himself again in the last few minutes, bullying defenders in his inimitable style. He must be a nightmare to play against. 3.46pm BST 44 min “John writing from Japan,” says John Ashburne. “In 2013 I flew over from Kyoto to witness the nil-five defeat to Swansea. Just in case I cursed them, I decided to stay at home in my wood and paper Zen house this time, and save myself a good penny or two. I have a stash of cold Sapporo, and am completely on my own - missus, mates, my dear brother Steve even - have no interest in the Mighty Bantams. I’m excited and bricking it at the same time.” 3.44pm BST 42 min The ever dangerous Marshall is fouled on the right wing by Hutchinson. McMahon clips it towards the near post, where Wyke’s header spins well wide of the far post. 3.41pm BST 39 min McMahon fouls O’Brien, 35 yards from goal. That gives Millwall both a breather and a set-piece in a decent area. It’s angled towards Morison, who wins the header and knocks it back across goal. Hutchinson waits for it to bounce and smashes a shot that is crucially blocked by McArdle. For all Bradford’s dominance, Millwall are really dangerous in the final third. 3.39pm BST 37 min Bloody hell it’s Matt Tempest! “Your old Guardian Unlimited colleague here. As Bantams fan watching this in Brussels - well, watching your min-by-min, as the local bar has the Grand Prix on, and Radio 5 Live is geo-blocked - I’m the worst person to judge this, but are Bradford the neutral’s choice on this clash?”I suspect so, given the general perception of Millwall FC, though there’s a lot to like about them under Neil Harris. Bradford would certainly be the purist and hipster choice. 3.37pm BST 36 min Some respite for Millwall. Abdou plays a crisp pass into the area for Morison, who fresh-airs his attempted shot. 3.36pm BST 35 min Bradford have so much class and they are completely dominant at the moment. Millwall need half-time. 3.35pm BST 33 min A clever corner routine from Bradford. Clarke passes it low and hard towards the D, where McMahon arrives late to rattle a left-footed shot towards goal. He doesn’t quite get hold of it and the ball deflects back for a second try, which he drags wide on the run. 3.33pm BST 32 min “As a West Ham fan, I’m obviously rooting for Bradford, not least because two of our youngsters (Reece Burke last year, and Josh Cullen this) have had very successful loans there,” says Daniel Barnett. “I was wondering how young Cullen looks today?”He hasn’t been a huge influence so far but you can see how comfortable he is in possession. That said, it’s hard to assess a player when you do an MBM as you spend half your time typing, or looking at a screen, or thinking back to what happened a few seconds earlier. 3.32pm BST 31 min Romeo shepherds the ball behind, not realising it had taken a nick off one of his teammates. McMahon’s deep, booming corner is met beyond the far post by the stretching McArdle, but his header is comfortably held by Archer. 3.31pm BST 30 min A rare Millwall attack brings another corner. Williams’ outswinger is cleared and Bradford break menacingly again until Marshall overhits his cross. Bradford are geared for the counter-attack every time Millwall get a corner. 3.28pm BST 28 min Bradford have been extremely dominant in the last ten minutes or so, with Morison and Gregory, so dangerously early on, unable to get in the game. I suspect it’ll be a match of many mini-moodswings like that. 3.26pm BST 26 min “Your point about the contrast in attacking styles is a good one,” says Phil Withall, lovingly caressing my bald pate. “There seems to be a casual simplicity about Bradford’s approach, playing to the situation. Millwall seem to be playing toward an expectation. I feel it may not go well for them.” 3.25pm BST 24 min McMahon thumps a free-kick towards the far corner that is headed away fearlessly by Hutchinson a few yards from his own goal. Archer may have had it covered anyway but Hutchinson didn’t take any chances. 3.24pm BST 23 min Marshall’s shot deflects towards Clarke, who is taken down by Abdou just outside the area. Abdou might have got some of the ball, and it’ll certainly be an issue if Bradford score. The free-kick is in a great position. 3.22pm BST 23 min Bradford are really dominating possession now, though Millwall are not a team against who it would be wise to have any sense of security. The front two of Morison and Gregory are such a threat. 3.21pm BST 21 min The Bradford right-back McMahon tries an acrobatic volley from 25 yards. Throw-in to Millwall. 3.21pm BST 20 min The increasingly influential Clarke picks up a loose ball and charges straight to the edge of the area, where Williams makes an important tackle. 3.19pm BST 18 min The clash of attacking styles is fascinating. Bradford are patient and neat; Millwall are chaotic and in-your-face. Both have had plenty of joy already. 3.18pm BST 17 min Millwall win another corner on the right. This has been a brilliant start to the game. The corner is half cleared to O’Brien, whose shot is blocked on the edge of the box. 3.17pm BST 15 min Clarke tees up the marauding left-back Meredith, whose stinging shot from a tight angle is beaten away by Archer. It was a comfortable enough save. 3.15pm BST 14 min “Hi Rob,” says Shaun Wilkinson. “As a Scunthorpe fan living in Cologne, I am keeping up with this play-off final as well as the Bundesliga today. It looks as if Hamburg are going into the relegation play-off AGAIN. I know some people don’t like the English play-off system, but it is certainly better than having the third-bottom team from the Bundesliga play the third-placed team from Bundesliga 2, as happens here. It seems that the Bundesliga team (usually Hamburg these days) is given an ‘extra life’ that they don’t deserve. What are your thoughts?”Yes I agree. I like the idea of a battle between divisions but I assume the top-division team would win too often to make it worthwhile or fair. 3.15pm BST 13 min What a save by Archer! Bradford broke devastatingly from the corner, with Marshall angling a wonderful through pass to Clarke. He took his time and tried to lift the ball over Archer, who had gone down but strained every sinew of his left arm to fingertip it past the post. Brilliant save. 3.14pm BST 12 min Millwall are causing a lot of problems for Bradford. Morison’s left-wing cross deflects dangerously across the area and is run behind nervously for a corner by Clarke. Williams’ inswinger is punched clear by Clarke. 3.13pm BST 12 min We’ve seen replays of the McArdle tackle on Gregory, and it seems he didn’t get the ball. The strange thing is, Gregory didn’t appeal at all for a penalty. Had he done so, he might have got one. 3.12pm BST 11 min Another corner to Millwall, this time on the left. It’s curled out to Morison, who gets above McArdle but mistimes his header well wide of the far post. That was a chance. 3.11pm BST 10 min The corner is swung in towards Hutchinson, whose flicked header deflects off McArdle and over the bar. That might have been going in. Millwall look such a threat from set pieces. 3.10pm BST 9 min McArdle makes an excellent challenge on Gregory, who had deftly pulled down a long pass over the top. Morrison is then crowded out, with Knight-Percival conceding a corner. Millwall are causing plenty of chaos in the final third. 3.06pm BST 6 min Marshall’s cross is half-cleared to McMahon, who tries to swoosh the bouncing ball into the far corner from 20 yards. He doesn’t cut across it sufficiently, however, and it drifts a few yards wide. 3.06pm BST 5 min Marshall miscontrols the ball, allowing Abdou to slide in and challenge. As he does so Marshall plants his studs into the side of Abdou’s leg. That looked very painful. I don’t think it was deliberate - it looked almost absent-minded - but he should have at least been penalised. 3.04pm BST 4 min Bradford enjoy their first familiar spell of possession, moving the ball around confidently before Clarke overhits a ball forward. 3.02pm BST 2 min Vincelot is penalised for climbing over the back of Gregory, which gives Millwall a free-kick 30 yards from goal on the right. Williams’ inswinger is headed away by Meredith. 3.00pm BST 1 min Peep peep! Millwall kick off from right to left. One of these teams will be playing Championship football next season. 2.59pm BST Both teams are wearing their home strip: Bradford are in claret and amber, Millwall in blue and white. 2.56pm BST My timeline has turned into something resembling a Hello magazine wedding shoot. Bradford v Millwall can't come soon enough. 2.54pm BST The teams emerge from the tunnel. The Bradford manager Stuart McCall looks eerily relaxed, Millwall’s Neil Harris less so. In a game of this importance, I’m not sure which is preferable. 2.42pm BST Any predictions? This is really tough to call but I think Bradford might sneak it 2-1. 2.14pm BST Pre-match reading Related: Millwall head to Wembley again hoping for bright end to distressing season | Tony Paley Related: Bradford City show benefits of unity as play-off final with Millwall looms | Paul Wilson 2.09pm BST Both teams are unchanged, and here they are.Bradford (4-4-1-1) Doyle; McMahon, McArdle, Knight-Percival, Meredith; Marshall, Vincelot, Cullen; Law; Clarke; Wyke.Substitutes: Sattelmaier, Darby, Dieng, Hiwula, Gilliead, Jones, Kilgallon. 12.12pm BST Hello. The play-offs are an exquisitely cruel creation. Even in a sport that routinely deals in extremes, the play-offs sit alongside the penalty shoot-out and something I’ve no doubt forgotten as the most emotionally hazardous experiences in football. The Agony & The Ecstasy is the name of Richard Foster’s excellent history of the play-offs and that phrase sums up the thrilling, terrifying jeopardy of a play-off final at Wembley. The first of this year’s finals is in League One, where Bradford City will play Millwall. One team will swig the happiest drinks of their lives at around 6pm tonight, whether it’s a tooth-tinglingly cold can of Stella or an Elderflower Tonic Water Infused With a Soupcon of Lemon. The other will drown the deepest, sourest sorrows, knowing that 49 games – 49 games! – of mostly excellent work has been for nothing. Continue reading. . read full article

Source: TheGuardian