North End roared into the Lion’s Den and blew Millwall away with, arguably, the best half hour of football we have played for many a long day.
An early goal from the unlikely right boot of Andrew Hughes followed by a back post header from skipper Tom Clarke and North End were two up with only quarter of an hour gone.
Before the half hour was out Sean Maguire had placed a delightful chip over Archer in the Millwall goal and it looked like being a cricket score at this point.
North End eased off after the break as the home side improved somewhat but there was only one concession midway through the second half and North End never looked in any real danger of letting this game slip through their fingers after such an impressive first half.
Manager Alex Neil made just one change from the side that drew with Nottingham Forest and that was Tommy Clarke coming in at right back for Darnell Fisher.
North End had already had one chance early on before a Gallagher free kick eventually found its way to Andrew Hughes who hit a sweet right foot volley to give North End a third minute lead.
We were all over Millwall and it was no surprise to anyone when a Gallagher corner from the right found Tom Clarke unmarked at the back post and the well placed header put North End two up.
The home fans were stunned and when a beautiful through ball from Gally was converted by a delicate chip from Maguire to make it three, the Lions roar had been reduced to a whimper and the home fans were seriously on their team’s case.
The 4-1-4-1 worked well for North End but in the second period I thought we were slightly complacent and allowed Millwall more of the ball in the middle of the park that their display deserved.
Maguire was getting through a load of work and ploughing a loan furrow at the top end for North End.
Our defending was controlled enough only to allow Millwall the smallest glimmer of hope when Thompson pulled one back midway through the second half but it was only a consolation for the home side as North End eased their way through the final quarter to a comfortable victory.
The one down side from the day was the booking of Ben Pearson for kicking the ball away which will see him banned for the next two games after collecting 10 bookings this season.
So a great day out in the capital for the 1,016 North End fans inside the New Den and their certainly made their voices heard in the crowd of 13,265 inside the ground on a beautiful February afternoon.
North End absolutely destroyed the Lions inside the first half hour and probaly the only criticism, if you can call it that, is that we did not go for more goals when we were massively in the ascendancy.
Paul Gallagher was my man of the match and was involved in everything constructive until he was subbed later in the game. Just how much we will miss Ben Pearson in the next two games we will have to wait and see. It was a stupid booking but gives Ryan Ledson the chance to come in against Bristol City and Blackburn Rovers and make his mark once again in the side.