Great win on Saturday but the play-offs spots moved no nearer as the teams in fifth and sixth place – Coventry and Millwall – failed to oblige by dropping points. However, this midweek match does give us a timely chance to eat away at that gap to the final play-off place currently held by Millwall.
Looked at one way, winning won’t be easy. Yes, we are on a great run since the managerial change, but Millwall’s recent results are more impressive: they have won five of their last six league games, drawing the other one. Just to illustrate how impressive they can be, that run includes a 3-0 win at third-placed Walsall.
But there is a chink of light: they are not very good at home. That recent run of theirs, so impressive at first glance, is actually dominated by four away wins. At home Millwall have lost no fewer than six of their 14 league games this season. Third-bottom Crewe even managed to hold them to a 1-1 draw at the Den at the end of January. And it’s not as if the net bulges regularly at the Den – just 18 times in those 14 home games.
The main threat to our defence is likely to come from Millwall’s leading scorer Lee Gregory who provided the winner in Saturday’s 1-0 win at Rochdale, for his 19th goal of the season, putting him on track to become the first Millwall player to scored 20 goals since Steve Morison six years ago. Though, of course, he won’t be breaking records on Tuesday night if our new dream team of Murray and Mirf have anything to do with it.
Millwall’s trip to Rochdale was, says manager Neil Harris “a nightmare” after traffic jams turned the team’s outgoing bus journey into a seven-hour ordeal. It didn’t stop them winning though, with Harris’s after-match assessment giving some clues as to the way his team plays and what we can expect.
“It was a disciplined, aggressive performance defensively. And the one real opening we got we took,” he said, before adding, about the secret of their success: “It’s hard work, it’s discipline, it’s desire. It’s a team that believes in what me and (his No 2 Dave Livermore) believe in, in the shape that we play, that we played in with many good Millwall teams. To do it you have to work extremely hard, be disciplined, be committed and be a team player.”
Seven years after we beat Neil Harris at Wembley, let’s hope we can do it again.
One final point about Millwall – they too have uncertainty over their ground. The local council, from whom the club lease land around the Den, want to sell it for development. If that goes through, then Millwall chairman John Berylson has warned “it will put the long-term future of the club at risk”. Whatever people think of Millwall and their reputation, that would be a sad day.