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.
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.