Millwall kicked-off their Championship return with a 1-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest – but might have returned from the City Ground with all three points.
Barrie McKay’s spectacular strike proved to be the only one of the game, four minutes before half time.
But Neil Harris’ side will have been left kicking themselves after missing a host of chances – and seeing Reds stopper Jordan Smith deny them, when they were on target.
Millwall will certainly have been frustrated after going into the interval behind, following a first half in which they had dominated – when it came to chances at least.
Forest might have had more of the ball, but it was the Lions who had carved out the far greater number of opportunities.
The home side had had 73 per cent possession, but Millwall had mustered 13 efforts on goal – and really should have had the lead, as well.
George Saville drove a shot into the side netting, after making room for a drive inside the box and then Aiden O’Brien’s header had the direction, but lacked the power to trouble Forest keeper Jordan Smith.
Veteran striker Steve Morison did beat the Forest man from a few yards – but saw his strike bounce powerfully and cruelly away off the bar.
Then Lee Gregory’s shot on the turn had Smith diving to make an important save, shortly after O’Brien had sent another header a foot too high.
Forest’s Ben Brereton had a shot sent spinning into the side netting by a deflection, before sending another effort just over.
But Millwall pushed again with Jed Wallace forcing another save.
It was against the run of play, then, when Forest took the lead, in the 41 st minute, even if it was a truly spectacular goal that earned it. McKay seemed to be little threat when he collected the ball 22 yards from goal, but the former Rangers man had other ideas, sending a powerful shot just inside the post and in.
An awful pass out from the back from Smith gave Millwall a glorious chance to level early in the second half, with Morison intercepting and finding himself with only the keeper to beat. He unselfishly squared for Gregory, but his strike partner blazed wildly over the open goal.
Wallace should have scored when another flowing Millwall counter saw him skip clear in the box, only for Smith to make a brave, strong save at his feet, to push away his driven shot,
Morison was celebrating what he thought was an equaliser for some time, after squeezing the ball home at the far post, only for his effort to be chalked off, after a long delay, for a foul on the keeper.
Forest themselves had a goal chalked off in similar fashion, after Clough had found the net. But sub Fred Onyedinma’s injury time miss perfectly summed up Millwall’s evening.