Hull 1-0 Millwall: Traore secures victory to dent visitors' play-off prospects
Faltering Millwall remain in the Sky Bet Championship play-off places but are now without a win in four matches following a 1-0 defeat at Hull.
Half-time substitute Adama Traore’s superb strike from the edge of the penalty area after 70 minutes – his first goal for the club – did the damage in a strange game of football.
Millwall could have been out of sight by half-time as they spurned a clutch of decent chances, not least when Oliver Burke hit the crossbar after a sustained spell of pressure.
But Hull, whose manager Liam Rosenior made an inspired triple substitution at the break, were a different side in the second half.
The visitors were second best from there on in and, despite having fought valiantly in pursuit of an equaliser, lacked that touch of quality that was so evidenced from Traore.
The hosts have now ended a run of one win in 10 previous games and were also sharper during an opening period in which Ozan Tufan ought to have scored after seven minutes.
A well-worked corner from the right gave Malcolm Ebiowei time and space to send over a deep cross towards the back post.
Tufan was unmarked, but the Turkey international headed over the crossbar when it seemed easier to at least hit the target.
Millwall might also have done better minutes later when Burke headed over Murray Wallace’s inviting left-wing cross.
Gary Rowett’s men came even closer after 27 minutes when Burke was played into a dangerous area from Tom Bradshaw’s drag-back from the right.
Burke struck well from a challenging angle but goalkeeper Karl Darlow kept big to parry the ball away to safety.
Whereas the home team looked the part in possession without doing anything with the ball, Millwall clicked following Burke’s chance and could not have gone closer to scoring on the half-hour.
Former Hull midfielder George Honeyman found Billy Mitchell on the overlap, with his resulting left-wing cross finding Burke in a fine, central position.
Burke volleyed towards goal but hit the underside of the crossbar, with the ball millimetres away from crossing the line.
Moments later, Shaun Hutchinson headed over another good chance from Honeyman’s precise free-kick from the right flank.
Millwall fans considering their team’s first-half display at the break must have fancied their chances of leaving Hull with three points.
But Rosenior’s bold move to bring on Traore, Callum Elder and Ryan Longman turned the game on its head.
Indeed, Longman nearly struck after 55 minutes when he skewed narrowly over the top-left stanchion with a smart, swinging hit.
Millwall rallied, but they were a shadow of the team that dictated much of the first half and were undone by a moment of instinctive creativity from Traore.
The Mali international had much to do from 20 yards, but he twisted his way into a good position before planting the ball firmly into the bottom corner with his left foot.
Darlow pulled off three fine saves late on, but Millwall’s attacking threat that so worried Hull’s backline in the first half was rarely evident as the visitors succumbed to a potentially damaging loss.