Take the point and move on

JDB – back in the side leading the line last night.

After Saturday’s defeat; scoring none and conceding three. If you then offered me the result we got last night; a bore 0-0 draw away to a recovering Norwich City side, I probably would’ve taken it.

It wasn’t pretty at times, but with special thanks to the woodwork in the first half, and a couple of smart saves from Bart in goal, we take the point on the board and move onto Saturday’s trip to Hillsborough.

We had the welcome sight of returning manager Gary Rowett back in the dugout, a presence I’m sure helped to re-invegorate the squad in an attempt to bounce-back from the Huddersfield result. We also had a slight change in setup, with the likes of Shane Ferguson, Ben Thompson and JDB (Jón Daði Böðvarsson) back in the Millwall XI for the first time in a long while.

With the above coming in the setup changed with an extra man in the middle of the field, with a 5-3-2 formation instead of the 5-2-3, if these mean much to you when looking at the lineup of the side. Ferguson added that extra man, and from minute one it was quite clear the plan early doors was not to get beat.

Ending with a clean-sheet on the night, the plan obviously worked, with Rowett introducing the likes of Mason Bennett, Shaun Williams and Matt Smith late on. It felt like we could maybe steal the three points, and but for Williams’ last kick of the game effort clipping only the top of the bar, we might’ve just done so.

One strength this side has developed since Rowett’s arrival is demonstrated in the tweet above. Well over a year into his management tenure and not once have we lost two games in a row, over all competitions too. With the introduction of the 5 man defence, breaking records also for shutouts against there is no doubting how much the side has improved in Rowett’s time at The Den.

With Norwich unbeaten since the International break and holding a play-off position pre-match, not a lot of sides in our division will walk away with a 0 against column. Whilst it might be a boring watch or might lead to some criticism for Rowett to setup in this manner, for me we have bigger games to worry about such as the next one up.

Languishing at the bottom of the table, still on negative points after 10 games also, Sheffield Wednesday presents a great opportunity for Millwall to get back to winning ways. With the likes of Ryan Leonard and Mason Bennett sitting out from the start of last nights game, it hopefully presents a chance for them to comeback in and have a match telling impact.

JDB up-front on his own cut a lonely figure last night, it was always going to be a difficult ask for him, and now with the unfortunate news that Kenneth Zohore is now out for pretty much the rest of his loan spell, Rowett needs to think of a new option in that number 9 position. Troy Parrott isn’t far away from a return to action, but without piling on too much pressure I hope he is worth the hype.

Whilst earlier on I give a lot of credit to Rowett for the defensive shape-up of the team, it seems we struggle to get a break up front. With both of his Premier League signings going down with injuries at different points. I certainly hope we can get over that voodoo and bad luck by backing the manager once more in January if necessary. Certainly, if we’re in touching distance of the promise land still by then, the forward line will need to have improved to compete with the likes of Norwich and co.

COYL.

Take the point and move on

Brought back down to earth, with a bang

Connor Mahoney – recalled to the XI on Saturday.

You didn’t really expect Millwall to pickup another win on Saturday did you? I mean, if you read my last post I definitely did believe we would. Millwall at home to Huddersfield, still in a transition under their new manager, with us fresh from a great win up north in Preston, surely we would do the business?!

Well, we didn’t, in fact we got our backside handed to us. Going down 3-0 to a side who actually lost to Preston the weekend before last, showing exactly why we argue as fans that The Championship is one of Europe’s best divisions for competitiveness.

Pre match ahead of Saturday’s game, with manager Gary Rowett still isolating at home having tested positive for the coronavirus, the onus was on the players and interim managers Alex Pearce and Shaun Williams to “go again” and backup their performance from Wednesday night.

Pearce post match was very open with the club in his interview, saying we needed to do more in the forward areas, also sighting that perhaps Wednesdays win took a lot out of the group. You couldn’t disagree with that statement, but both sides were in the same position and it was the visitors who looked more at the races.

Perhaps, with only one day on the training pitch to prepare for Huddersfield it was always going to be a big ask of the players. Especially with changes to the side guaranteed with new signing and goalscorer from midweek Kenneth Zohore missing out through injury.

Upon 2:00pm arriving we learnt that the side had two changes from Wednesday with Mason Bennett also missing out, although later featuring from the bench in the second half of Saturday’s game. Connor Mahoney stepped in for Bennett whilst Tom Bradshaw was selected ahead of Matt Smith in place of Zohore.

It did raise an eyebrow or two with Bennett dropping to the bench, considering the impact he had on Wednesday night. However, I could only imagine this is only due to Bennett’s stop start career so far in SE16, with injuries always looming over the forwards ahead since arriving in January this year. With Mahoney also impressing this month, and unlucky to miss out on Wednesday completely, it does also highlight the growing squad we have.

With that said though, I felt we missed both Zohore and Bennett against Huddersfield. Especially with the pace and rawness of Bennett in the forward line, he offers something unique when compared against our other forward options, and despite huffing and puffing our way through the game Saturday, real moments of quality in the forward areas were few and far between.

Things could’ve played out very differently if we were rewarded a penalty early doors from one of our many opening stage corners. However, despite winning a penalty midweek, with our height advantage, it seems to play against us when grabbling goes on during set plays.

I’m still very much on the fence when it comes to players like Mahoney, his talent is very obvious but blowing hot and cold, more so cold for me is an issue Rowett needs to resolve. Bennett is also likely to have games where his involvement is less, however with the strength and pace he offers, I feel we can afford to carry him more on an off game as compared to Mahoney.

Credit should be given towards Huddersfield, they caused our backline problems with their forwards interchanging amongst each other, dragging our central defenders often out of position and punishing us when chances were presented to them. The second goal has to go down as another Bart error, and hopefully we’ve firmly seen the back of them as the timing of the mistake Saturday in my eyes proved fatal for the result.

Positives have to be taken though from our last five matches, only losing one and winning three. With Rowett now back as of today, hopefully we can setup well ahead of Tuesdays trip to Carrow Road, an unhappy hunting ground for as long as I can remember for a Millwall side. Norwich also seem to be gathering their own form with no defeat in five and surging into the play-offs at the weekend.

With the underdog tag put back on us tomorrow, hopefully we can pickup a good result but more importantly show more performance wise and quickly forget about Saturdays defeat.

Come on Millwall…

Brought back down to earth, with a bang

Despite adversity, Millwall’s momentum is increasing…

Stepping up as manager this week – Alex Pearce in interim charge of Millwall

If Gary Rowett isolating at home last week ahead of a home game against Barnsley was bad, having the rest of the coaching staff then isolate before a trip to Preston must’ve been worst case scenario at Calmont Road on Tuesday morning.

Step forward club captain Alex Pearce, and the ever present and now player-coach Shaun Williams. Two leaders amongst men, the pair then return home on Wednesday night from Deepdale, Preston with three points, clean sheet, and a great team performance too.

Having now picked up three wins in four since the international break, with the other result being a draw against bogey side Barnsley, the form guide is beginning to read pretty for The Lions.

Albeit the team was picked by Rowett and setup to exactly what the manager feel would provide the best chance of winning, credit cannot be taken away from the pair. With the odds stacked firmly against Millwall on Wednesday night, for the players on the pitch to provide a 10/10 performance such as that, highlights the respect and trust they have in Pearce and Williams.

From minute one the game was there for the taking, with Preston below par and manager Alex Neil full of excuses post match. However, we still needed to do enough to win and in the second half, thanks to a real moment of quality from Mason Bennett, who teed up Jed Wallace to square the ball to full debutant Kenneth Zohore. We got the crucial breakthrough to grab a firm grip on the tie.

Zohore later went off the field with by the looks of it was either a shin or calf related injury, having got his first start of the season and a goal to go with it, I hope that isn’t a lengthy lay-off for the loanee. In glimpses I felt like we saw what the forward has to offer our side, not only was he a vocal point for the team to aim for when under the pressure at the back, he seems a willing runner and has the ability to turn defences and have them running back towards goal.

Millwall’s first goal of the night at Preston Wednesday

The first half wasn’t for the purists, we were on top with chances but the killer end ball seemed to be missing. Especially with Mahlon Romeo, who seemed to get into acres of space throughout the first half, and yet was doing his best to ensure anything but a good ball was delivered into the box for Zohore to get on the end of.

Preston rarely troubled us with only one noteworthy contribution required from Bart in goal, rushing out to his right of the goal and closing the angle to prevent a real Preston effort on goal. Highlighting his real quality, on a quiet night for the goalie he was still on his toes to make sure his sheet was still clean.

The second goal of the night for Millwall came from a corner, with defender Muarry Wallace getting caught with a late attempt to clear the ball from Preston, going down to earn our other Wallace, Jed the chance to get his fourth of the season. Jed delivered, as we come to expect from the forward when 12-yards out, sealing the three points for Pearce and Williams.

The celebrations at the end highlights all I’ve said above, the players went out there and did the business for their team mates and leaders of the dressing room. With Huddersfield next at home, albeit with a long journey home after that win to get over, I’d back us to do the business once more on Saturday.

I’m sure Rowett won’t be disappointed with his sides efforts whilst working from home in the last two…

Despite adversity, Millwall’s momentum is increasing…

Rowett’s ambition and its infection on the club…

Millwall manager Gary Rowett

Tomorrow we travel west to Wales as we attempt to replicate last seasons win away to Swansea. If Jed Wallace is over another free kick in the second half, especially after scoring again last week I’d probably put a significant stake on him proving decisive once more for Millwall.

Having started the league campaign with a win and two draws, undefeated. Conceding only one, a penalty against the always impressive Brentford. Excitement levels for me are naturally getting carried away, could this be the season we finally make a serious claim to get promoted to the Premier League?

If I wanted to take a negative spin on the last three league games I probably could, we’ve only scored two goals and had only six efforts on target in the ties. With also one of the least touches in the opposition box throughout the whole league. Fortunately I’m more inclined to blind positivity when it comes to our club.

However it’s as a team, even as a club with the clear and obvious message from Rowett that leaves me nothing but ambitious for the outcome of this season. Rowett just oozes the confidence and ambition that I feel will be key in what we achieve this season and beyond.

The masterstroke from Rowett was the introduction of the 5-2-3 formation, especially away from home. Picking up eight wins in 17 since Rowett arrived at The Den, keeping goals against to a clear minimum with Bart winning the golden glove last season, no one can ever think to doubt the defensive solidarity we have within the squad. Confidence from the squad is clearly there to be seen, and the players are buying into anything and everything Rowett has them doing on a match day.

The home form has instead clearly suffered since the new year, with only four home league wins in 2020, the emphasis has switched and this is something that needs to be resolved for us to be considered hopefuls this year. Personally, I feel the lack of fans especially in our case as a club is huge, with no Den atmosphere to call on towards the back end of last season, form took a nose dive as the players adjusted to live without fans.

However, taking a closer look at our last game at home to Brentford, I feel we’ve turned a corner with that performance where we out shot Brentford, created more and attempted to stamp our home authority on the away side. With Luton, Barnsley and Huddersfield coming up as our next three home games, I’m sure manager and players alike know how key those games will be for us to kick start our push towards the summit of the table.

It was an interesting watch//listen after the Brentford game, with Alex Pearce and Jed Wallace on club media duties, they both seemed in unison of what the side needs to achieve in the coming games. The creative outlet we saw last time out is something which needs carrying on and if we continue that style of play into the next game and beyond, I truly believe we will win more than we lose.

Under Neil Harris, we had the small club mentality of always being the underdog, looking to hit teams on the counter and only play in their final third away from our own backline. However, under Rowett, and the free licenses to all in the squad to play football and commit bodies forward from wide areas especially, we have our own threat that we need to be tapping into more as the season gets fully underway.

With the ambition and hope of taking the game onto teams, hopefully we can come away with all three points tomorrow at the Liberty stadium.

MILLL….

Rowett’s ambition and its infection on the club…

Matt Smith finally Joins Millwall

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Monday evening saw news broke with the formal announcement of Matt Smith as a Millwall player. It signals the third addition of the summer with Smith following goalkeeper Frank Fielding’s signing late last week; of course Alex Pearce had signed on the dotted line shortly after last seasons completion to be the first of the trio.

The three signings so far, least in my opinion make up the experienced players in the squad. With the likes of Tony Craig and Steve Morison departing in recent seasons, we are now seeing a transformation of players that Neil Harris will turn to when requiring a big performance when results are not quite going our way.

I’m by no means a mind reader and couldn’t possibly begin to tell you the exact thought process behind the three signings so far this summer. However, hopefully now with one or two match winners joining up in the coming weeks we wont be far away from what Harris wants to see from his Millwall side next season. I’m talking about your Jamal Lowe’s and Kieffer Moore’s, players who have impressed the division below and will be eager to come in and make it count in The Championship should the chance be offered to them.

If you happen to be unfamiliar with our new number 10 and his journey up until now, Smith’s arrival brings another element to our front line, especially considering his height of 6 feet 6 inches. Indeed with the departure of Morison in the early summer and the supposed departure of Tom Elliott pending, Smith will certainly be our new go to player when looking to play a direct style of play.

Joining up from London rivals QPR, the 30 year old target man brings a wealth of Championship experience with nearly 200 games at this level over the course of the last seven years. A former Leeds United and Fulham player too, Smith has actually been a Millwall target for as long as Ian Holloway’s stint in charge at The Den. Link here for reference should you be interested!

So we’ve finally got our man as the saying goes, but what can we expect from Smith? Well with 21 goals in 94 appearances at Loftus Road, it doesn’t sound like the most prolific of signings however its worth noting Smith was sparingly used in the last two seasons at QPR. In fact, of the 94 league appearances 55 were from the subs bench, therefore perhaps statistics such as goals to game ratio don’t quite work in the forwards favour.

If you scroll further back to Smith’s first season at Elland Road with Leeds, the forward actually netted 12 goals in 39 appearances in his first season in The Championship. Used as a key part of their team at the time, he was quickly a fan favourite at Leeds with many of their fans sad to see him leave after he joined Fulham. Joining a club such as Millwall now, who have always taken to a front two partnership with a little and large duo, the prospect of seeing Smith and Tom Bradshaw line up together in pre-season leaves me more than hopeful!

Despite some saying we should’ve moved away from Smith when we failed to sign him in seasons gone by, I believe we’ve got a top addition joining who betters our front line when comparing the impact Morison and Elliott had last season. Hopefully with a full pre-season together we could also see Bradshaw and Smith hit it off together and strike up a front two partnership that we as a club have always relied on.

Three signings so far Harris, go and get us some more please..!

Matt Smith finally Joins Millwall

All the best, Lee Gregory!

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It was the worst kept secret in our Millwall world, however this week we finally saw forward Lee Gregory complete his move to join up with Nathan Jones and co. at Stoke City. Ending what was a five year stay in SE16, it now brings an end of an era, with not only Gregory leaving; we also last week said goodbye to Steve Morison.

With both Morison and Gregory 3rd and 8th on the all time goalscoring charts for Millwall, no one can take away the efforts the pair put into the club. However, where Morison is leaving and dropping down a division and turning out for Shrewsbury Town next season. Gregory on the other hand will be a competitor in our division with aspirations to make it to the big time and become a Premier League player by next summer.

Turning 31 in August, if you go by the usual career of a footballer it presents probably the last shot of Gregory’s career to have a serious impact at the higher level of English Football. No on can begrudge Gregory the chance of making something of a success at Stoke, especially considering when you fully digest his own journey whilst with us at The Den.

Joining from Halifax Town in 2014 under then manager Ian Holloway, for the first time in what seemed for years at Millwall, we finally spent money on a number nine striker who we hoped would bag goals and allow us to compete in The Championship. Starting the season with wins against Leeds and away at Fulham, optimism was high but little did we know at the time we would ultimately get relegated to League One come season end. Ian Holloway promised us a striker we would identify with, and even compared Gregory to strikers of the past who had successes for the club, pressure was there from the start.

Gregory finished the season with nine goals in 39 league appearances, in what was his first season as a fully fledged pro, it can and should be looked back at as a success for the striker. However, given the performance of the club that season, even I myself at times scapegoated Gregory, with a handful of high profile misses in games we needed an impact most. I still remember that sitter away to Rotherham only for the home side to score literally seconds later at the other end!

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Gregory obviously wasn’t to blame for us going down that season, but the silver lining from that dreadful year was the appointment of our own legendary club number nine, and still manager now Neil Harris. Immediately playing up Gregory and putting his full faith in the forward, Harris seemed to have his own target of making Gregory his main man. Under Holloway, Gregory often played as a lone striker, however immediately whilst in caretaker charge Harris put this right with offering Gregory a strike partner, and performances improved with Gregory ending the last home game of the season with a hat-trick against Derby County.

Albeit a division lower the following season, 2015-16 brought Gregory’s most prolific season for the club with 27 goals, followed by tallies of 18, 10 and 13 the season just gone now. Goals are obviously the the fundamental thing strikers are judged on, however what makes Gregory a name we will remember for a while yet is his determination and work rate at the front of the pack.

Yes, you could argue Steve Morison was an important factor in the partnership between the pair, but the development of Gregory whilst with us was highlighted most last season. Playing the majority of the second half of the season as a lone striker and still adding goals, it highlights how much Gregory had worked on improving his own game, which led to him becoming the valuable cog in the side we all noticed.

Gregory was a presence in the side we will really miss next season and with Tom Bradshaw returning this summer from his injury, I truly hope we have a ready made replacement for Gregory already. Winning player of the season before leaving this summer highlighted what a fan favourite Gregory had become, but also showed the journey he went on to win us over as a fanbase. I don’t think you will find a single Lions fan who wouldn’t wish Gregory the best of luck, aside from of course two fixtures in the coming season against us.

All the best, Lee Gregory!

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All the best, Lee Gregory!

Rolling the dice could be the masterstroke we need…

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Ahead of what promises to be a summer and pre-season of mass turnover in SE16, the underlying feeling when leaving the 2018/2019 last month was a sense of relief. Despite finishing under the so called magic target of 50 points, we managed at the expense of three worse teams survive in The Championship.

For the first time since probably handing Neil Harris the job four summers ago, we again have differing views as a fanbase as to whether we have the right man in charge to take the club forward. No one doubts or plays down the achievement’s of Harris and co, however would the club perhaps benefit from a change of direction?

We currently have 16 contracted senior players at the club; including recent addition Alex Pearce who put pen to paper and extend his stay at The Den beyond his loan expiry date. This number is however slightly inflated, with both Fred Onyedinma and Tom Elliott offered out to clubs should anyone be interested. Not to mention the forgotten half a million pound man Jiri Skalak, who only made four starts the entire campaign just gone. Take away these three and you’re left with a squad of 13 players…

Mahlon Romeo, Shaun Hutchinson, Alex Pearce – Contract signed, Jake Cooper, Murray Wallace, James Meredith, Jed Wallace, Jiri Skalak, Shane Ferguson, Aiden O’Brien, Shaun Williams, Ryan Leonard, Ben Thompson, Tom Bradshaw, Tom Elliott and Fred Onyedinma are the only contracted senior players at the club.

Whilst alarm bells are ringing amongst supporters and rightly so with pre-season already only around the corner. I, perhaps somehow liken to the approach to rolling the dice. Taking risks that could backfire, however could also bring huge amounts of success. At this level you need a different approach to compete and this could hopefully bring that turn we need.

Some might call it delusion, but with key personnel such as Steve Morison and Lee Gregory departing the club, a duo who had huge success for us. The door is now open to either a newcomer or someone already within the club to ‘grab the shirt’ and make an impact. Agreed, no one has joined aside from Alex Pearce at the time of writing this, but Harris’ knowledge and success at the club the last four years earns the right to be afforded the benefit of doubt.

After overseeing a clear out in his first pre season in charge, Harris brought in Archer, Ferguson, Morison and Wallace the following season, three players who went on to contribute a huge amount the following seasons. We also got a rejuvenated Gregory working under Harris and enjoying his football, could there be a member of the current squad now who is out of favour but go on to prove us all wrong?

Supporters want to see a side who crosses the white line at The Den and give their all for the club who pay their wages. Given that we are now in the second division of the English pyramid, the expectancy is hyped and we not only want passion and commitment but also a bit of quality to come with it. Players already at the club such as Romeo, Cooper, Wallace and Thompson already offer the excitement factor, now we just need the club to back the manager at the helm and see what returns he gives us.

Rolling the dice could be the masterstroke we need… Whats the alternative to that?!

Rolling the dice could be the masterstroke we need…

Four Cup Finals To Play…

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Tomorrow Millwall travel to Bramall Lane, home of Sheffield United as The Lions look to extend their unbeaten run to seventeen league games unbeaten. Backed by nearly 2,000 fans in a sold out allocation, it kicks off the first of four cup finals left to play against teams challenging for promotion this season.

Almost feels like the play-off’s before the actual play-offs, with the teams at the top scheduled to play against each other in the final four games of the season. I can’t remember a climax to the season we have coming up in years gone by. Oddly I feel to have these games are the best set of fixtures we could’ve had, these “big” clubs are expected to beat a club like Millwall, and the home fans on Saturday will be turning up expecting the home side get the win.

The Blades currently occupy 9th place in the league standings and sit three points behind us in what has to go down as a real six-pointer clash. If Millwall were to get the win on Saturday and put six points between us and Sheffield United, it would take a big swing in fortunes in the remaining fixtures for The Blades to catch us with the amount of games left. Pressure is firmly on the opposition going into the weekend.

Albeit we had a poor start to the season whilst The Blades ran off with the early season pace runners, to have both clubs challenging for promotion is real credit to both Neil Harris and Chris Wilder. Considering both sides were only just promoted to the division last summer, it demonstrates the reward of promotion and what momentum you can gather. In Wilder Sheffield United have a manager very similar to Harris, who can relate to the fans and is considered “one of their own” having played for the club in two different spells; again very similar to Harris at The Den.

Recent form has been a mixed bag for the home side, with nine points earned in their last six league games, but their win in midweek against fellow play-off chasers Middlesbrough reminds us of what their capable of on their day, especially whilst at home. Whilst we receive praise for our home form this season, Sheffield United have accumulated the same amount of points at home this season as The Lions.

The midweek clash saw Lee Evans grab two goals from midfield, with one strike from range highlighting the threat their midfielders possess. David Brooks is the hyped youngster who hit the ground running in the early stages of the season, but looks to have returned to form recently and will be another to look out for during Saturday’s clash. Also not forgetting experienced forward Leon Clarke, a football league striker I’m sure many of us all already know much about.

Enough of the home side, lets focus on ourselves ahead of another big clash. I anticipate Steve Morison coming back into the side in place of goalscorer Tom Elliott, which would probably be the only change Harris will elect to make. The team truly does pick itself, especially when on a run of sixteen without defeat.

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Destiny is firmly in our hands, win our remaining games and we wont be caught, of course easier said then done. However, looking at tomorrow the game is a must win for the home side, and I believe this will favour us as a side who looks to hit the opposition on the break. Whilst it’s not a must win for us just yet, it’s certainly considered to me a must not lose.

COME ON WALL

 

Four Cup Finals To Play…

Sixteen Unbeaten

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Millwall are now 16(SIXTEEN) games unbeaten after running out 2-0 winners at The Macron Stadium, defeating struggling Bolton Wanderers with ease. In a game where The Lions were in control for the majority of the tie, goals arrived through target-man Tom Elliott and loan signing Ben Marshall.

With Marshall also laying on the assist for Elliott’s goal; an in swinging cross into the box from deep. It was a man of the match performance from the wide man who provided the quality in a match begging for a touch of class. Zapped of confidence the home side had the early possession, but on the break through the likes of Lee Gregory and Jed Wallace we were a constant threat.

The best of the two goals was Marshall’s second half strike. Mahlon Romeo of all players the architect, running almost 80 yards before squaring to Marshall who’s finish left Alnwick in goal no chance and put the game firmly to bed.

Since arriving on loan from Wolves, Marshall has now contributed three goals and five assists in 12 appearances for the club. With form in the last five games picking up immensely, I sure hope we have some sort of a clause in place with a figure already agreed should we choose to sign the player. Every good performance always adds a few quid to a loan players price tag…

The loanee is yet to be on the loosing side for Millwall this season, whilst bringing immense quality Marshall has made the position on the left side his own. Despite not being a natural left midfielder on arrival and considered the modern day number 10 type of player, credit deservedly is due to Harris and the recruitment team for identifying Marshall as a valid option for our side.

Keeping the returning Aiden O’Brien out of the starting XI is not an easy task. However Marshall has provided a creative outlet we desperately required on the left flank. At times over relying on the direct running Jed Wallace, we now have constant threats on both side of the pitch. Whilst O’Brien is a goal poacher, you often find O’Brien lurking at the back post and providing the final touch, instead Marshall is turning up at the back stick but also laying on a load of chances for our forwards to finish.

For the second time in 12 games manager Neil Harris opted to make one change to the side, with Elliott replacing Steve Morison in the starting XI much like our trip to Hull a month ago. Grabbing a goal for himself Elliott proved what he has to offer at the club, a handful in the opposition box the forward was also impressive in defensive set pieces.

Whilst competing with Morison for his place in the team means chances come at a premium, to have the luxury of Elliott as a squad option and have him make an impact and grab a goal will please Harris. Others who don’t get a look in at the moment include the likes of Conor McLaughlin, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Shane Ferguson, Ben Thompson and even the experienced Jason Shackell.

With competition for places brings that extra percentage of performance from players and it is clearly a massive contributing factor to our unbeaten run. We now find ourselves… We now find ourselves… Who am I hiding my excitement from… WE’RE IN THE PLAY-OFF PLACES WITH FOUR GAMES TO PLAY! I truly cannot believe the performances we are being provided with since the turn of the year, the players are rewarding the fans and the fans are playing their part in their support to.

Premier League football is only a dream I can’t even begin to let myself realise just yet, however to be this close with four games left in the season is an absolute credit to the work of Neil Harris and co. Not only is he a club legend, but we now have a squad in front of us on a weekly basis that understand what it means to represent the club and what their fans stand for. On a near zero budget too, competing with clubs who can splash cash for fun.

Super Neil.

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Sixteen Unbeaten

Enjoy The Run-In… We Have Nothing To Lose

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Five to play and the climax of The Championship is near, with Millwall sitting comfortably in 7th with one point separating us and the Play-Off places for Premier League football. In a season where the priority was survival and getting to 50 points as soon as possible, even the ambitious fans amongst us wouldn’t have dreamt of the run we currently are on with the club now chasing down the top six in the division.

Saturday saw The Lions dispose of early season pace runners Bristol City in front of another capacity crowd at The Den. With the atmosphere probably the greatest of the season so far, the players turned up once more with Jed Wallace and Steve Morison grabbing a goal each as we ran out 2-0 winners. Wallace in-particular starring throughout with his direct running causing the Bristol City defence numerous problems, the winger provided a goal of the season candidate too with his curling effort from the edge of the box leaving Frank Fielding in goal no chance.

In the first of five “six-pointer” ties where we take on the majority of teams in and around us chasing the top six, Neil Harris couldn’t hide his praise for the team. Limiting Bristol City to no shots within our 18 yard box, Jordan Archer in goal had nothing to do in a game where the out of form visitors failed to register a single shot on target. It’s a true credit to how far the team has come since the turn of the year, unbeaten in 15 league games (yes, FIFTEEN!) managing to win 10, aside from Fulham we are the form team in the division.

The phrase “overachieving” is over-used when a club such as ours does well in any competition. However, considering the financial power a lot of the clubs in and around us have in The Championship, plus sides such as Sunderland on the verge of double relegation to the third tier, Neil Harris and co. deserve immense amount of credit for the job done since his appointment three years ago now. The strategy is clear, the style of play suits the club, and more importantly the whole fan base is behind every decision the club makes.

Midway through the second half on Saturday, the whole ground was in unison whilst blurting out The Super Neil Harris chant. Despite already being considered a club legend for his efforts as a player, I don’t think even Neil Harris would’ve dreamt of the position we currently find ourselves in at the moment. With five to play fate is firmly in our own hands, easier said than done but win our last five and no matter how other teams get on we land up in the end of season shootout for promotion.

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Bolton, Sheffield United, Fulham, Middlesbrough and Aston Villa make up our last five fixtures. Last June on fixture release day I had Aston Villa at home on the last day of the season down as a game where both teams would need the win for differing reasons, with the likelihood we’d be languishing at the bottom needing a win for survival. Now we have these big teams coming up in and around us I couldn’t think of a better set of fixtures to have.

Bolton tomorrow night could prove to be the toughest test of the lot. Having lost their last three and Barnsley beneath them winning on Saturday with a game extra to play, Bolton have almost been clawed back into the relegation dog fight. Pressure will be on Millwall to turn up and win the tie and we go in as the favourites. Having said that, based on recent form being the favourite is something we’ve been for the majority of recent games. When we come up against the likes of Fulham and Aston Villa, teams with a huge financial backing compared to ourselves the pressure is lifted as we take on our familiar underdog tag we thrive on.

I guess now we’re in the position we find ourselves in, the team are full of confidence and fully enjoying their football. Who knows, we might actually end up in the top six and have another day at Wembley… Regardless of the outcome of the remaining five games, what I can say for certain, it has been one of the best seasons following the club.

Enjoy the run-in… We have nothing to lose.

 

Enjoy The Run-In… We Have Nothing To Lose