Blackburn Rovers survived the biting cold and a ferociously hostile Millwall cauldron to leave south Bermondsey still able to dream of a Wembley semi-final. Neither of these Championship sides could make the decisive breakthrough on an afternoon when it seemed there were more tackles than passes and they will meet again at Ewood Park this Wednesday.

The busiest man on the pitch was the referee, Martin Atkinson, who needed to keep his wits about him as both teams hurled themselves into full-blooded challenges throughout a tempestuous tie.

The Blackburn manager, Michael Appleton, lambasted Millwall's "cheap shots" but was by far the happier manager after the final whistle, with Kenny Jackett ruing his team's squandered opportunities.

"There were a lot of tackles flying around today," Appleton said. "There were a couple of cheap shots which is disappointing but I think the game on Wednesday is going to be completely different. We knew we had to be competitive today and stand up to a lot of physical pressure. I thought the players did great."

Blackburn's captain, Scott Dann, required strapping round his head following an early collision with Rob Hulse while Bradley Orr, himself a substitute for Adam Henley, was withdrawn in the second half with a cracked rib.

The Millwall midfielder Jack Smith insisted that Blackburn's players "seemed to fall over if you breathed on them" but Appleton's assertion that the midweek replay will require a strong referee certainly felt like a statement from the heart rather than a passing dig.

The passion emanating from the stands began to spill on to the pitch after half an hour as David Forde sprinted out of his goal to shove Markus Olsson, both players receiving yellow cards. Hulse then had the ball in the net but his far-post header from a corner was disallowed due to Danny N'Guessan's obstruction of the Rovers goalkeeper, Jake Kean.

Millwall came even closer to scoring five minutes before half-time. Smith drifted a deep cross into the penalty area from the left but Andy Keogh, scrambling forward and stooping low, saw his header rebound off a post. "Goalscoring has been a problem for us throughout 2013," said Kenny Jackett. "We had an outstanding 2012 but today showed that when we do get on top of sides and create chances we need to score."

Blackburn showed more life in the second half but were short of creativity in midfield. Millwall, on the other hand, were crafting opportunities with more frequency and Danny Shittu of all people rifled a shot towards the top corner from 35 yards that Kean tipped over.

The centre-half also tested Kean with an effort from 25 yards late on but no blue shirt was there to follow it up. "He doesn't shoot like that in training," Jackett joked afterwards.

Perhaps it would have been better if Shittu had been on the receiving end of a glorious chance in the 59th minute. The impressive Chris Taylor drilled the ball deep into the penalty area where Keogh waited to guide it back across goal, only for Hulse somehow to fire over from six yards.

It was a terrible miss and Blackburn almost made Millwall pay for it with 13 minutes remaining. Morten Gamst Pedersen's corner was nodded back across goal by Dann and met by Josh King but his header came back off the same post that denied Keogh in the first half.

Millwall had half-hearted appeals for a penalty waved away by Atkinson after the ball was drilled into Pedersen in the closing stages and, though they continued to dominate possession, their lack of cutting edge means a trip to Lancashire is required. "Our away form has been good this season," Jackett said. "We've been up to Ewood Park in the league, so both clubs will know quite a lot about each other." Millwall won 2-0 there in November.

Appleton, meanwhile, was impressed with his side's resolve. "It's a great place to come and play, the crowd get right behind them. It can be intimidating at times but, if you can come away with the victory, it tastes that much sweeter," he said. "I've got to be delighted with the way the players stood up and got on with it. I'm obviously delighted that we've got an opportunity to go through."

Man of the match Danny Shittu (Millwall)