Seventeen unbeaten, nine games in a row without conceding a single goal prior to Saturday’s game. Everything appears to be coming together just at the right time for Neil Harris and Millwall.
What seemed like doomsday after being taken apart by Scunthorpe United, league leaders at the time. Harris has overseen a sequence of games that I struggle to better during my time following the club.
Yet, I have not even mentioned a cup run defeating three Premier League sides. Providing the club and fans with a dream away day when we travel to Tottenham, this coming Sunday. An occasion I’m sure we all are looking forward to for many a reason.
Perhaps by fate instead of choice, an influence during the run has been the number of home games we’ve played. Eleven out of the seventeen matches have been at home, allowing the side to put to use the so called home advantage. Perhaps what might’ve been considered a negative under previous managers, however with Harris in charge the noticeable improvement has been the home performances.
I think the obvious improvement and most significant difference has been our consistency defensively. Conceding only six goals in our unbeaten run, and on only one occasion letting in two goals away to AFC Wimbledon. We have also had to contend more than one tough away tie with trips to Charlton and Bradford. The run we’re currently on certainly shouldn’t be underestimated.
Our back four appears to pick itself, with a balanced central pairing of Byron Webster and Jake Cooper. The side also has the defensively sound Tony Craig and Shaun Cummings on either side, bringing an all-round solid back line.
The word balance is used a lot when describing the back line, but the addition of a left footed, 6”6 centre back in Cooper was the vital ingredient. Albeit on loan, Cooper has taken on the Beevers role we obviously missed in the first half of the season. It’s no coincidence we’ve also seen the best of Webster, with Cooper in the side Webster appears to have recaptured his form of last season.
Cooper’s arrival also kept Tony Craig out of the central area, with the captain now holding down the left back position. Having been the subject of a lot criticism from the stands, Craig has been up there with our consistent performers during this unbeaten run, offering the solid full back to allow the likes of O’Brien a freer role in front.
The same has to be said for Shaun Cummings, keeping out Mahlon Romeo who we all thought was harsh to drop at the time. However, in a side that could not keep a cleansheet before Christmas, you’d take a lot of convincing to argue against the decision made by Harris.
Squad depth has hugely improved since the January window, despite only two new arrivals with Cooper and Jed Wallace returning. The difference is the quality of options, despite not having Wallace, Steve Morison and Jordan Archer available for selection, the increased depth has allowed our run to continue.
The season is shaping up almost identical to last, with The Lions on 58 points on this exact date last season. To take you back, at this point we had Lee Gregory also scoring for fun, a consistent side with each player knowing their role, a back four that picked itself, the comparisons are there for all to view.
Six points now separates Fleetwood Town, and us who currently occupy the second automatic promotion position. With eleven games remaining, and an Easter Monday tie away to Fleetwood still to come, should we keep our current form going a little longer, it could provide an entertaining end to the season…