23 April 2009
Millwall's skipper Tony Craig is demanding a big finish from his Lions in their last home game of the season, after a dreadful performance down in Bristol last weekend left some fans fuming.
The stand-in skipper, along with the 900-strong away following at the Memorial Stadium, was deeply disappointed with the first half performance, that saw the Lions go into the break 4-1 down with ten men.
But the versatile defender insists that his side will bow out of the Den with a big bang as they gear up for the playoff lottery in May. He said: "Bristol wasn't the best day at the office for us and it really brought us back down to earth, after being on such a high with the win over Peterborough.
"It wasn't the best 45 minutes I have ever played in my life, but we all went in at half-time and a few strong words were dished out. I think, though maybe a little too late, we went out and did ourselves a bit of justice with the second half."
But for a handful of fans, the first half display was enough for them to walk out at the interval to make an early start on the long trip home. The lifelong Lions fan added: "I think the fans have got a right to do what they want when they travel to see us play. If that means going at half time, that's up to them.
"But hopefully each and every one will be back behind us on Saturday and I think the boys owe them a performance.
"Saturday is an important day. It's the last home game and a chance to put in a shift in front of our home fans before the playoffs kick in."
The long away day at Carlisle will bring an end to a brilliant Lions campaign, but with a place in the playoffs already in the bag, Craig has no plans to ease up. "It will be a very hard game at Carlisle," he added. "They are fighting for their lives and it looks like their final position will go down to the very last game.
"I'm sure they will have a lot of fans behind them and I'm sure there will be a big Millwall following down to the last. We have to finish high in the table and to get the second playoff game at home will be a massive lift for us once the fans get behind us."
One man who may not feature in the playoffs at all is striker Ashley Grimes, who could face a three-match ban from the FA, after being sent off in the reserve game against Gillingham on Tuesday.
The devastated 22-year-old was shown a straight red after lashing out at Gills' Charlie Howard and, under FA rules, the possible sanction will not take effect for fourteen days. That would make the Manchester City Academy product suspended for three games after the final game at Carlisle and out of both legs of the semi-final and the possible Wembley finale.
An FA spokesman told the 'News': "If a player is sent off in a reserve game for violent conduct or serious foul play, he is suspended until his team has played three first time games.
"But any suspension does not begin until fourteen days after the incident, to allow for the report to be made by the match official." An apologetic Grimes told the 'News': "It was a straight red, and I think it might rule me out for three games if it's violent conduct. I am hoping to hear something before Friday, but if it is three - I'll be devastated. It will kill my season.
"I hoped to have got some minutes and maybe some goals in the reserve game, to put myself in contention for the weekend - especially now that Gaz is back. "But to rule myself out is disappointing."
He explained the incident and is hoping for some leniency from the referee at the Lions' Calmont Road training ground: "It was a petty clash from a throw," he said. "He [Howard] booted me while the ball was out and then stamped on my toe before running away. And out of pure retaliation I nicked at his ankle and the ref called us over.
"I thought he might book us both or give us a talking to thinking he had seen it. And he sent me off. It was just ridiculous.
"I regret retaliating - but it was not like I booted him or went for him, just a clip of the ankles. It was so petty it was untrue and a massive overreaction."
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