By Andrew Baxter
Lee Gregory’s dramatic 98th minute penalty at Gillingham secured 4th place for Millwall, meaning that the Bantams will play them in front of a packed Valley Parade on Sunday, before the two sides clash again at The Den next Friday night.
City’s two league games against The Lions have been tight affairs. In October, the sides drew 0-0 down at The Den, whilst the return fixture was settled by a late Steve Davies winner. This is in stark contrast to the two FA Cup ties played last season between the pair, with a thrilling 3-3 draw in London being followed up by a resounding 4-0 win for the Bantams, in (arguably) one of the finest performances under Phil Parkinson.
Millwall come into the play offs in good form, having won five out of their last six games of the regular season. In fact, The Lions have lost just three times since the start of January, picking up 47 points from a possible 66 since their 2-1 defeat to Barnsley on January 2nd.
Their away form this season has been impressive. Only Walsall have picked up more points on the road than Millwall this season, with The Lions recording 11 wins, six draws and six defeats from their travels this campaign. Having said that, City have turned Valley Parade into a fortress this year. City’s record of 14 wins, five draws and just four defeats means that only Wigan Athletic have secured more points at home than the Bantams.
As for their form at The Den, Millwall started slowly, but have picked up the pace in the last few games. Whilst they (statistically) have the ninth best home record in the division, six wins and a draw in their last seven home games implies that Millwall are a side that are becoming harder and harder to beat on their own patch.
In fact, their near-perfect home form over the last seven games is bettered by just two teams in the Football League and Premier League. One of these sides is Bristol Rovers, who secured back-to-back promotions last weekend. The other? Bradford City…
In terms of the line up, Millwall will play a 4-4-2. Manager Neil Harris has a couple of tough decisions to make, most notably upfront. Top scorer (and one-time Bradford City target) Lee Gregory came off the bench to score on Sunday after a spell on the sidelines, and it looks like he will be available for this weekend.
However, Aidan O’Brien, the man who has replaced Gregory of late, scored at the weekend and dropping him would seem harsh. Either Gregory or O’Brien will partner the experienced Steve Morison. The 32-year-old is currently enjoying his third spell at Millwall, and has been in good form this season, finding the net 18 times.
Only Wigan have scored more goals than Millwall this season, and this success in front of goal has largely been due to the form of Gregory and Morison.
The Lions will be without right-back Mahlon Romeo, who was sent off in the closing stages of last weekend’s game. The Antiguan has been a regular in the side of late, but will miss both play off games. Apart from Romeo’s absence, Neil Harris is fortunate enough to have a largely injury-free squad, so it looks like he will field a settled side.
If this is the case, then Jordan Archer, Millwall’s Player of the Year, will continue in goal. Shaun Cummings looks set to deputise at right-back, with Byron Webster, City summer target Mark Beevers and Joe Martin making up the rest of the back four. In midfield, Chris Taylor and the dangerous Shane Ferguson will occupy the flanks, with Ben Thompson and Millwall stalwart Nadjim Abdou in the middle.
Millwall come into the play offs on a great run of form, and are definitely there on merit. Will they be too much to handle?
Categories: The 2015/16 play offs
Good article. it will be a tough couple of games and could well go to penalties!
Sorry to point it out, but Peterborough have scored more than Millwall this season (82). The same as Wigan.
There was a poll for Millwall fans about who they wanted to avoid in the play-offs and over 75% wanted to avoid us.
Lets hope we can make sure this comes true by having a good first leg
A great article, Andrew. Like Hundreds of others, I guess – I spent much of Sunday night studying recent form of all four teams involved. I can not recall a time in recent years the play offs have been this close, so very little to divide the contenders. And yet – I feel only one outcome …… A true Yorkshire derby between City and Barnsley ! We can no longer accept our experiences of ‘being there’, as Barnsley too were there just weeks ago, in the JPT. The stakes are so high, yet the rewards are higher. The team from hereonin with the greatest desire, and determination will write their piece in the record books.
Ummm – all very interesting.
My fear is that our scoring shortcomings will come to haunt us. Whilst defensively we have been superb you only need a fluke super strike to scupper us EG Coventry away and Peterborough away last season.
Very very close to call. 1-1 first leg and narrow 1-0 second leg victory but to whom? One thing is for certain 3 hours of tension, cant look moments ahead. Unless 5-0 win in 1st leg makes second leg irrelevant (hopefully)
So second best home team v second best away team….something has to give ehh 😄
Hopefully not us!
Going to be a great atmosphere for sure at VP