Millwall emerged surprise 2-0 victors over Birmingham on Wednesday, with Neil Harris’ side mustering a resilient performance and Ben Thompson a lethal finishing touch.
The midfielder, who returned from his loan spell at Portsmouth in January, netted both of the Lions’ goals in the first half, meaning that, for the remainder of the game, the visitors only had to keep their hosts at bay.
A crucial part to their doing so thereafter was Alex Pearce, who was immense alongside Jake Cooper at the heart of defence and whose statistics outshone those of match-winner Thompson.
The former Derby man had plenty of balls into the box to deal with and did brilliantly, winning 10 aerial duels and completing 11 clearances on the way to a well-earned clean-sheet.
A beast off the ground, the 30-year-old was equally stoic on it and completed one tackle, an impressive three interceptions and was also willing to put his body on the line – as every good defender should be – as he blocked one shot.
The immense Irishman might not have scored the goals that Thompson did but, on only his second Championship start for the Lions since switching to The Den in January, excelled in defence as Birmingham did their utmost to comeback – this didn’t go unnoticed amongst the Millwall faithful, who reacted on Twitter:
No doubt Thompson has been excellent and scored two very good goals but Alex Pearce has been unbelievable. Brilliant from him and Cooper so far
— jacktk (@Jacktk) March 13, 2019
@bennthompsonn will get all the headlines tonight and rightfully so, but Alex Pearce was superb !
— The Emotional One (@shoultsy) March 13, 2019
Alex Pearce. Proper Millwall type centre half. That’s all.
— AWOL27 🏴🇬🇧🏴🇬🇧 (@AWOL27) March 14, 2019
The Blues had 61% of possession and seven corners, all of which were dealt with well by the Lions defence, but never really looked likely to score with Pearce and Cooper playing out of their skins.
Pearce’s fantastic stats from the game add up to an overall match rating of 8.29, while perceived man of the match Thompson earned an 8.27 from WhoScored, despite the Millwall number 8 having scored a brace.
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All the plaudits will undoubtedly go to the his fellow January arrival but Pearce’s contribution to the crucial victory should not go under the radar, either, as the numbers show that he might have had a better game – only slightly, admittedly.