Alan Pardew’s new era as Saints boss started with a 1-1 St Mary’s draw against Millwall.

The Lions, beaten play-off finalists last season, were a decent outfit but Pardew’s team showed extra grit, determination and organisation to give them a really good game.

In the end both sides had to settle for a point with Saints moving to minus nine after their first day in League One.

The first hint of danger came from Millwall after three minutes when a ball in from the right almost picked out Nadjim Abdou. It appeared Wayne Thomas did well to block the shot but the referee gave a goal kick.

Despite that Saints were looking pretty solid all in all in the opening stages.

The experienced defensive line were fairly comfortable and Saints were using the beautiful surface at St Mary’s to zip passes around that threatened to pick apart Millwall.

Saints’ first effort came on 18 minutes as a miscued clearance from Alan Dunne flew back over his head and high into his own box. Marek Saganowski won it but could only direct his header wide of the target.

Millwall went straight up the other end and won a free kick in a promising position as Chris Hackett was tripped just outside the area by Chris Perry. The free kick was right of centre and about 20 yards out.

Gary Alexander stepped up to take it but blasted it straight into the wall.

The game was very competitive and being played at a high tempo but chances were very few and far between.

Both sides did well at getting behind the ball and making themselves hard to break down but neither team had often threatened to stretch the play too wide or to get in behind.

Saints almost took the lead through a moment of inspiration from Morgan Schneiderlin on 27 minutes.

As the ball was laid back to him some 40 yards out and on the right wing he spotted the keeper off his line and tried a first time curling shot that David Forde had to scramble back to turn over the bar.

Adam Lallana took the corner which was a low one met first time by Chris Perry but he drilled the ball just wide.

Saints were starting to really get on top for the first time and Saganowski again couldn’t direct a tricky header goalwards, this time from Matt Paterson’s ball in.

Saganowski thought he was about to give Saints the lead as he headed goalwards past Forde but the linesman flagged for a foul.

As the half came towards a conclusion it was again far more even.

Gary Alexander threatened for Millwall but his shot was charged down by Dan Harding.

Just before the break a loose ball out from the back allowed Schneiderlin to try another shot from distance, this time from only just inside the Millwall half, but his effort dropped just over the bar.

Saints had a late scare as Perry scrambled around on the ground to clear after Alexander prepared to pull the trigger eight yards out but clear he did and the half ended goalless.

Scott Barron caused Saints a few worried moments two minutes after the restart after he cut in from the left and shot from 25 yards low across Kelvin Davis but wide.

But it was Saints who took the lead on 51 minutes through Paterson.

There was an unseemly scramble as the ball pinged around in the box after a flick on from a right wing throw before eventually falling to Paterson who got it under control and finished into the far corner for 1-0.

There was a hint of offside about it and Millwall complained to the linesman but the goal stood and Pardew’s reign was up and running.

Millwall made a double substitution on the hour mark to try and get themselves back into the game with Jason Price and Ali Fuseini coming on for Martin and Adam Bolder.

Harding made his first successful overlap shortly afterwards and delivered a wicked curling cross from the left that Forde did well to get to first and punch clear.

Millwall had two shouts for a penalty in the space of several seconds – the second of which was given.

After appeals for handball had been waved away and the ball came loose Price chased it away from goal but went down under the challenge of Thomas and a needless penalty was conceded.

Alexander stepped up to take it but it was weak and Davis saved low diving to his left.

But he produced an even better stop from the follow up, a one handed reaction stop from Price.

From the corner Millwall came agonisingly close again, this time Steve Morison’s effort being bundled behind by the Saints defence via the outside of the post.

But, on 67 minutes and from the next corner, they did draw level.

A deep corner was headed back across goal by Morison where Abdou found himself with time and space to loop a header into the corner for 1-1.

Pardew made his first change on 70 minutes with Oscar Gobern coming on for Paterson as Saints switched to a 4-2-3-1 formation with Paul Wotton and Lloyd James in front of the back four, then Lallana, Schneiderlin and Gobern behind Saganowski as a lone striker.

Millwall thought they had taken the lead when Morison’s low ball was tapped him at the far post by Alexander but it had already gone out of play.

Pardew made a second switch moments later with Simon Gillett on for James.

Both sides made their final changes with seven minutes remaining as Jake Thomson replaced Schneiderlin and Neil Harris came on for the injured sub Price.

You sensed that both sides felt there was a winner for them late on but though there weren’t any clear cut chances it was Millwall who were mainly on the front foot.

Alexander came close at the start of injury time with a header back across goal that went wide while Millwall had to get a header over their own bar just before the death but a draw was about a fair result and that’s how the game ended.

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