Round 4 - 21st January 1939
Having seen off Tranmere at Blundell Park, Town were drawn to play away at the Den, Millwall, in Round 4. Millwall's last 9 Division 2 matches had seen them win just once, against Luton by the odd goal in three, with four draws and four losses in the other eight games. The one stand out victory was a 5-0 thrashing of York City in round 3 of the FA Cup.
Town, on the other hand, had lost the previous Saturday game at Old Trafford by 3-1, and since then had spent the week at Matlock preparing for their visit to London. The mood in the camp was good with no reported injuries following the Manchester United defeat, and the team travelled down to London by train on Friday. Everything was going well and to plan, with Charlie Spencer the manager doing his best to ensure a smooth passage to Round 5.
Football though rarely goes to plan as we Town fans know full well, and this game proved the point. Millwall, despite their abysmal league form, were all over their more illustrious opponents, and it is reported that the Town forwards couldn't hold on to the ball, so the defence was having a torrid time. Indeed, "Parkite," reporting the game for the Grimsby Telegraph suggested that but for the "one weak link" of Millwall's right-winger Rawlings, the game would have been won for the Lions before half time. As it was, their centre-forward, McLeod, had given the home side a single goal lead at half-time. "Parkite" was in no doubt that the lead was thoroughly deserved.
The second half was a near repeat of the first, and in an effort to gain a foothold in the game, the Town players changed positions, but all to no avail, and when McLeod scored Millwall's second in the 82nd minute, it looked like the great cup adventure for the Mariners was about to fizzle out and hit the rocks.
Town players resumed their normal positions, with Boyd and Beattie breaking away down the left, and as the centre came across, it was met by Howe with his head, and Town had a lifeline.
Millwall tried to hit back, but suddenly the Town defence was more up for the fight, and quashed the Londoners' efforts. Lewis dashed down the line, but was stopped by Lea at the expense of a corner. Right-winger Boyd was sent over to the left to take it, and with the Millwall box full of almost the entire Mariners' team, 6 players went to head the cross! One connected, and in the melee no-one was sure who it was, though it turned out to be Howe with his second.
Referee Mr Dutton handled the game as close to perfection as anything Parkite had ever seen. There's a first!
So Town, despite their successful week in Matlock, had escaped by the skin of their teeth, and would bring Millwall back to BP 3 days later. Could they do the business in Cleethorpes? We'll have a detailed report in three days' time!
Millwall: Pearson; Lea, Dudley; Brolly, Chiverton, Forsyth; Rawlings, Richardson McLeod, Barker, Smith.
Town: Tweedy; Vincent, Hodgson JV; Hall, Betmead, Buck; Boyd, Beattie, Howe, Jones, Lewis
Referee: G Dutton (Warwick)