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…

Crucial Win Before The Christmas Run-In…

 

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FINALLY, the weekend saw The Lions register a crucial win at home to high flying Sheffield United. Running out 3-1 winners, the timing couldn’t have been better with the Christmas run-in well underway.

Three goals from open play and Lee Gregory getting his first goal in nine games, taking the opening goal superbly in a chance you might not have backed him to finish in recent games. I don’t think Neil Harris would’ve struggled to sleep on Saturday night, a few pints were certainly enjoyed after the game from me anyway!

In a typical Millwall performance, the team dug-in when under pressure from the visitors who dominated the ball as expected. Despite keeping hold of the ball for long periods towards the end of the first half and early stages of the second, I couldn’t recall an occasion where Leon Clarke up front had an opportunity to test Jordan Archer in goal.

Despite the visitors failing to win in their last couple of games, going into the game as mentioned in our last post, we expected a difficult game. However, in games like this at The Den I’d much rather Sheffield United coming to town instead of Shrewsbury Town with a couple hundred fans in The North Stand.

Guaranteed a good away following from the visitors and more home fans likely to be in attendance, the atmosphere was certainly more lively when compared to Hull City on a Tuesday night. I’m sure the players raised their own game for it too, and it was evident from the start.

The opening stages of the game was very much all Millwall, and the breakthrough came on 14 minutes. Lee Gregory converting our breakaway which had started on the right flank with the returning Jed Wallace running at the opposition defence. Wallace has been a missing piece in the jigsaw in recent weeks, with the lack of a player willing to take on the opposition at pace and cause havoc.

Wallace had probably gone off the boil in the games before his suspension, however on the evidence of Saturday’s performance the break clearly done him the world of good. To finish off the move Steve Morison had picked out Gregory, who made no mistake from 10 yards out.

Having had the early stages of the game under control, Sheffield United slowly came back into the game and deserved to level before half time. David Brooks providing what has to go down as a beautiful finish, cushioning his strike into the opposite side of the goal from the edge of the six-yard box. Saturday’s performance certainly flagged up to me why Premier League clubs might be taking a look at the youngster.

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The game could’ve honestly gone either way at half time, and thankfully after riding another wave of pressure early in the second half, we got the opportunity to go ahead again and took the opportunity. Mahlon Romeo grabbing himself his first goal in The Championship in his first start in the division too, sounds similar to a debut of Romeo’s a couple years back at Walsall, no?

With Conor McLaughlin suspended Saturday was Romeo’s first opportunity to put some pressure under the Northern Irish international, and after his performance Saturday I’d be surprised if Harris decides to drop him for Villa away on Saturday. Overlapping as usual down the right hand side, Romeo found himself the furthest forward after Gregory’s sliding tackle on the Sheffield United central defender. With Gregory picking out Romeo, the full back did the rest converting his shot to the far corner past Jamaal Blackman in goal.

Jake Cooper put the game to bed late on with a header at the far post, with Millwall running out 3-1 winners. The second half was on a knifes edge, but what edged it more was the players desire to get the win.

The midfield pairing of George Saville and Ryan Tunnicliffe has coincided with our form taking a dip after Shaun Williams’ injury. However I felt on Saturday the pair got to grips with the Sheffield United three man midfield and contributed massively to our win. With Williams due to return its likely to see Tunnicliffe make way, however I personally felt Saturday was his best performance in a Millwall shirt so far.

Lots and lots of positives, as you’d expect after a win like that! Let’s hope it continues on Saturday away at Villa Park.

Crucial Win Before The Christmas Run-In…