Somehow Fate Is Still In Our Own Hands

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Well, here we are entering the final game of the season with something still to play for this season. Thankfully, we’re not battling relegation, or fearing the worst, instead our fate is very much in our own hands currently placed 6th position in the League One standings.

Despite two losses on the bounce, at the hands of Fleetwood Town and Oxford United, we somehow have a chance. I guess it’s up to us to make the most of it then? Before the Fleetwood game, I didn’t anticipate two losses on the bounce, however both games left me with different thought processes at full time.

Fleetwood goes down as “One of those days”, we truly played the Cod Army off the pitch, and on another day would have walked away four or even five goal winners. How didn’t we score from a set play, how did Gregory not walk away with at least a couple more goals to his season tally? Even though we somehow lost the tie, we managed to retain our place in the play-offs.

Last Saturday’s performance will go down as probably the worst performance of the season, especially at home going down 3-0 to mid-table Oxford United. With nothing to play for, Oxford rocked up to The Den with the sole aim of ruining our play-off hopes. Playing with confidence and no sign of fear, the visitors played us off the park, leaving us to chase shadows for 90 minutes.

We created nothing going forward, but for O’Brien’s guilty miss midway through the second half, I can’t remember Simon Eastwood in goal making a save. Whereas on Easter Monday Fleetwood nominated their goalkeeper man of the match, the Oxford game ended on a very different note. For the second time in less than a week, I thought we blew our chance of promotion…

Despite suffering a second successive defeat at the business end of the season. WE STILL OCCUPY 6TH POSITON AND THE FINAL PLAY-OFF PLACE!!! I don’t understand how, but thanks have to go out to Phil Brown and Southend United. Viewed as the chasers, and arguably with less pressure the seaside club also suffered two successive defeats at the hands of MK Dons and struggling Shrewsbury. Also a special mention goes to Rochdale, who at one point on Saturday occupied 6th position, but handed the place back to us drawing 1-1 with Oldham.

I’m not suggesting we’re destined to now make the play-offs, but if we manage to pass by three golden chances of finalising our league position, serious questions will need to be answered by Neil Harris. Perhaps you need a bit of luck to get over the line, but Sunday we need to go out and earn three massive points.

Despite all the hope and anticipation of what might’ve been a dream season back in August, we’re now in the reality of needing four wins for promotion. An over used pun incoming, but we now have four cup finals to deal with. Play like we have done before Oxford, I don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t win on Sunday away to Bristol Rovers.

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Top six as it stands, who would we end up facing if we make the play-offs?

Do I believe we’re going to win promotion this season? A lot hangs on not only us winning this weekend, but also who finishes in third position. Potential outcomes include one of Bolton, Fleetwood, Scunthorpe or even Bradford finishing in third position should results go their way.

Whilst I fancy our chances against any opposition in a one off game, having lost twice to Bolton this season, they would certainly be the one time I’d like to avoid. However to win promotion you have to earn it and face anyone that comes your way.

Onto Bristol Rovers on Sunday then…

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Getting Our Act Together Just In Time…

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.

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Run of results after defeat away to Scunthorpe in December.

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.

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Jake Coopers addition has brought ‘balance’.

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…

Should Millwall Re-Sign Jed Wallace?

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No matter which outcome we have in the coming weeks, the January 2017 transfer window will forever be known as the Jed Wallace to Millwall window. Much like how the summer window of 2015 will be remembered for whether James Hanson would sign for the club from Bradford City.

Out of favour under new management with current club Wolves, Jed Wallace has been made available for transfer by current manager Paul Lambert, with the club said to be keen to get the player off their wage bill and bring in new signings.

Having enjoyed a successful loan spell with The Lions this time last year, enjoyed by both the player and us fans. Rumours as expected are floating of our interest to bring the player back to the club for a second spell.

Manager Neil Harris has also admitted his admiration for last seasons loanee, but won’t be drawn into conversation of whether the club have registered a bid for the player. However, being made available on the market, the club surely will have registered interest in a player who contributed greatly in such a short spell in SE16.

Wallace’s arrival seemed to coincide with the up-turn in form for Millwall, coming straight into the side for an out of form Onyedinma at the time and making the position his own from the very beginning.

During Wallace’s stint with Millwall, of the 12 games he had started in the league, we only lost on one occasion, also winning 7 times. Wallace had also contributed with 5 assists and a single goal to his name, most notably of the assists, most were in the build up to goals scored by Lee Gregory.

As mentioned above Gregory had benefited massively from Wallace’s superb delivery of the ball, by instinct Wallace just knew exactly where to put the ball for Gregory, and the striker found himself on the end of countless deliveries from the right side.

I think the video above covers all you need to remember from Wallace’s loan spell last season. Scoring goals haven’t been a problem this season, however despite the improvement and promise shown by Onyedinma on the right hand, the addition of Wallace add’s another element to our attack.

It does beg the question, if Wallace signs does this hold back the progress and first team exposure Onyedinma has had in recent weeks? What happens to David Worrall, a summer signing who has slowly found a place in the first XI hard to come by.

I would like to see more of Onyedinma further up the field, the player himself admits that the wing is not his natural position. With the capability to mix his play up, playing through the middle in attack could be a long term option for the youngster. Competition for places is also valuable in a side who want to be challenging for promotion.

Personally, I believe Millwall would be stupid to turn down the chance to re-sign Jed Wallace. Still only 22 years of age and already showing he is more than capable for this level, in a market where prices will only continue to go up, a hefty profit in the future for a player of his calibre is almost guaranteed.

The only stumbling block we can all agree on, is how much money will Wallace cost if signed on a permanent deal. With our record transfer still Paul Goddard’s move to the club in 1989 totaling 800 thousand, will the board need to break the record to fork out for a player like Wallace?

I ran a poll last night, and results suggest the club might just have to spend some money if we really want Wallace:

Will we get Wallace? I think we will, I believe the club would work tirelessly to get a player we know won’t be a let down if signed. Knowing Millwall however, a potential loan for the rest of the season might also be a distinct possibility.

The Steve Morison Effect

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What a difference a week makes in football! Having picked up two wins against Charlton and Swindon in the last seven days, Millwall find themselves looking above in the league standings; only three points behind Southend United who currently occupy 6th position.

Having suffered two defeats without scoring a single goal leading to the Charlton game, I have to admit last Wednesday was the first time in a long while where I turned up to a home game full of nerves. Especially with our recent record against Charlton, pressure was on us to turn up and earn the result we desperately needed.

As I mentioned in my previous post, for the first time during Harris’ time in charge as manager pressure was starting to mount, with an increase in fans questioning Harris’ decisions. Going into the Christmas period only one outcome was required.

Nerves were quickly put to bed with the return of summer signing Shaun Hutchinson and talisman up top, Steve Morison. Not that we’ve played poorly since his injury, but the Charlton game clearly demonstrated what we miss when Morison isn’t in the side.

Leading from the front, Morison contributes massively in more than just one phase of play; especially in defence during set plays. Even entering the twilight of his career, there are no signs of him letting up yet.

Albeit nothing like the player we signed back in 2009, occupying a completely different role in the side, Morison’s importance to the style of play Harris wants is clear for everyone to see.

Instead of playing the role of a sole goalscorer, Morison takes up a role Harris occupied when the pair played up front together. Chipping in with the most assists since the start of last season, as well as providing goals ranked second in the charts behind Gregory, I view Morison as an even better player than the younger version we signed in 09.

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I know what you’re going to say, I’m rimming Morison quite a bit here, and I’d probably agree with you. However even when looking into statistics of how the team perform when Morison is in the team, compared to when not available…

During the spell where Morison hadn’t started a game through injury we had failed to score on four separate occasions, including the disappointing one goal defeat to Shrewsbury. Where we all walked out after the game questioning how we lost that day.

Whereas in all other leagues games Morison started we have scored in all but one match, our 2-0 home defeat against Bolton Wanderers.

Perhaps having such a reliance on Morison is a negative Harris needs to address, as Morison won’t be on the scene to lead the forward line for much longer. Harry Smith stepped in and done a solid job for a player making his professional league debut much quicker than expected.

However, Smith doesn’t have the know how nor experience to help see out matches like Morison does. If I was Harris once we’ve sorted our defensive problems, seeking a long term option to replace Morison has to be at the top of the agenda.

It’s Not A Must Win, But Please Wall, Don’t Lose This One

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Tonight we take on probably our biggest game of the season so far, as we welcome local rivals Charlton Athletic to SE16. Fresh from two consecutive defeats, failing to score on both occasions against bottom and top of the division, tonight form will surely go out of the window in a game where both sides will be desperate to win.

If its any consolation, Charlton have also failed to pickup a win in December, with their last win arriving away to Bristol Rovers; although a 5-1 victory shows the threat we might be up against tonight. Yet to win under new manager Karl Robinson, pressure will be immense on both sides ahead of this clash, with both sets of fans after the bragging rights.

I’m sure both sets of fans will agree we’re not the biggest rivals to each other, however we can also both agree its the biggest clash we will get in the glamour of League One. With the visitors also failing to record a victory against us during my life time, tonight is setup to be either a thriller or dull affair.

With such a record in recent years, the pressure will be well and truly on Millwall. Boosted with the return from injury of key player Steve Morison and defender Shaun Hutchinson, I’m anxiously hoping we can turn the corner so to speak, and come through the always important Christmas period with much needed wins.

Tonight is not a must win, the reward is exactly the same as the 45 other games we will play this season, however the downfall of a defeat against Charlton might have more of an effect now then any other time under Harris’ time in charge so far.

For the first time in a long while, pressure is well and truly on the shoulders of Neil Harris, with injuries a clear problem in recent weeks we are now close to what we might consider our strongest XI. Now is the time where Harris should be judged for his sides performances, most of these players are players Harris trusts to do the job required of challenging at the top of the table.

I’m personally still 100% backing Harris to succeed and restore the club to The Championship, however the split opinion between the fans is starting to grow in favour against the manager. As you’d rightly expect when we’re not playing as well as we should be, the only negative of Harris might just be his loyalty to some players, or perhaps his forced to work with what he has got at his disposal?

Focusing back on tonight’s game, I took to Twitter (be sure to follow if you don’t already!) and conducted a poll for each position of the starting XI and what we would like to see as a lineup for tonight’s game:

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I think most will agree this is probably our strongest XI, knowing Harris and 4-4-2 being the formation he believes in. I don’t see formation as a cause to the issues we’ve had this season, it worked for us last season, so it’s a bit naive to nail formation down as a root cause this time around.

We’re close now to the best XI at our disposal, if this side still cannot go out and keep a clean sheet in a match over the Christmas period, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a defender or two arrive in the January transfer window.

But please Millwall, don’t lose this one…

Attack Wins You Games, Defence Wins You Titles

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Twenty games into the campaign and something still doesn’t feel quite right at The Den. 12th place in the league, 8 wins, 4 draws and 8 defeats so far. With the half way point of the season fast approaching, I don’t think many felt we would find ourselves in the position we currently occupy in the division after beating Oldham on the first day of the season.

Positives have been there to see, however the negatives are equally present in a side which has yet to get going. I guess mid-table represents exactly that point, but what needs to be changed to allow for improvement? Where exactly have we been seeing our sides efforts go wrong?

32 goals have been scored so far this season, failing to score on 4 occasions, with forwards such as Gregory, Morison and O’Brien, goals are not a problem in this side. In fact, when compared to the rest of the division, we are the 6th highest scorers in the division, yet mid-table is where we are at.

Injuries haven’t helped with arguably our first choice pairing of Morison and Gregory enduring spells on the sidelines. However, despite this we’ve also seen the positives of our under 23 players making the step up when called upon, especially with summer signing Harry Smith bagging 6 goals in his short spell in the first team.

Players such as Shaun Williams, Ben Thompson and Mahlon Romeo continue to grow in reputation with consistent performances, which us as fans can only hope and demand for. Williams in particular has proven his importance and has clearly put his troubles of last season behind him.

Despite the obvious positive’s, one of the best attacks in the league is met with an equally “impressive” 4th worst defence in the league, shipping in 32 goals against, in competition with the front line to keep and even goal difference.

We’re talking about a side who’ve only managed three clean sheets all season. Despite Harris sticking to the partnership of Webster and Craig with Archer ever present in goal, the defence is clearly a problem and needs addressing wherever possible in the January window.

As Harris himself stated after our last game, there will be occasions where we fail to score, however you need the ability to keep clean sheets if you’re going to achieve anything deemed successful across the season.

I find myself turning up to games knowing we’re going to concede, however usually back our forwards to get the defence out of trouble. This is clearly not a sustainable plan for a side hoping to earn promotion to the division above.

I don’t think we can single out a particular player, all of the defense need to be held accountable for the record we currently hold; at this point last season we had earned seven clean sheets. Not many more than this season, but in what is the second season under Neil Harris, these are the stats where you’d hope to see an improvement.

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It begs the obvious question, was letting Mark Beevers leave the biggest mistake the club and Harris have made? It was muted towards the end of last season the defender wanted to return up north, but his impressive performances for Bolton haven’t gone unnoticed. If Beevers was still around would we find ourselves in mid table?

Harris identified the replacement for Beevers early in the summer, with Shaun Hutchinson arriving on a free transfer from Championship side Fulham. However Hutchinson seems to have caught the Cowan-Hall disease and spends more time in the treatment room than on the pitch. Who knows? Hutchinson might eventually come good, however not many players come back from poor starts to their careers at our club.

What would I like to see over the coming games? I’d love to see a change in the back line with Williams coming into the defence. Okay, we miss his presence in the middle of the park, however in the formation we play, Williams will be allowed even more time on the ball to pick his passes and set us on the attack. Physically Willams can also hold his own in this division, having proved his worth as a defender whilst with MK Dons, playing solely in the back four.

I don’t propose Williams as the long term fix to our defensive woes, however as mentioned above with only 3 clean sheets so far this season, we haven’t got much to lose.

Millwall Vs Coventry City – Player Ratings

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This weekend brought upon our 7th league game of the season, with winless Coventry City the opposition at The Den. As you’d expect in the case of our visitors, a side short of confidence the early proceedings of the game were in our favour.

Unable to create a clear opportunity going forward, it took fan favourite Marvin Sordell, or Nemo to break the deadlock for the visitors with a great finish from 20 yards having been offered the time and space from the Millwall defence.

From then on it felt like only one team was in control, and it wasn’t us. Having got to half time one down the second half was a dull affair, however fortunately for us in one moment of class O’Brien was on hand to convert a Morison cross and earn a welcomed point for Neil Harris and Millwall.

Three wins, three draws and a single defeat leaves us in fifth place in the league standings, a position I feel we warrant so far this season. Having struggled at the start of the last season at this point, improvement is all we are after as fans, with everyone wanting the same end result of promotion this season.

I’ll have an additonal post out tomorrow on my thoughts of the game, however as always below are my player ratings from the game:

Starting XI

Jordan Archer – 6 – Despite Sordell getting the plaudits for his strike, I feel Archer will be dissapointed he wasn’t behind the strike from the forward. Perhaps I’m being harsh myself, however aside from the goal I felt Archer was the solid keeper we need every week, making a couple of neat saves from set plays inparticular.

Mahlon Romeo – 6 – As always with Romeo I felt he went about his business as expected from the young full back. Perhaps due to the team as a whole struggling to create in attack, I felt we missed Romeo’s presence on the overlap, however I don’t think Romeo is to blame for our lack of creativeness.

Byron Webster – 7 – Am I being generous with a 7 for Webster? Probably so but I feel to get a point across Webster is head and shoulders above the rest of the central defenders at our club. Able to deal with tall and quick strikers, without Webster in the side I’d hate to think how many more goals we’d have conceded this season.

Tony Craig – 6 – Done what was asked of him and solid throughout from Craig. I feel the only aspect I’m judging Craig on is his abillity to captain the side, and from my point of view it’s odd to see Craig hardly communicate to his team mates on the field. Especially in a side with younger players, you’d think Craig would be the player to fire up his team mates and help get us over the line, I didn’t see that on Saturday.

Joe Martin – 6 – Yellow card machine now has his fourth yellow of the season. Solid as you’d expect from Martin in the match, I suppose the only positive from Martin constantly receiving bookings is that Chesmain will be offered the chance to impress when Martin is suspended.

David Worrall – 5 – Quiet throughout, perhaps due to the style of play requested from Harris I felt all of our creative players were missing throughout the match on Saturday. I couldn’t tell you one moment where Worrall was able to get down the flank and put a delivery we know and expect from the winger.

Shaun Williams – 5 – Another who couldn’t make a telling impact due to not having the chance to get on the ball and play his game. If we’re looking to play on the counter and not looking to keep posession I struggle to see what Williams offers in games like this. When the opposition out number our midfield both Williams and Thompson struggle to get on the ball and create chances, something needs addressing from Harris.

Ben Thompson – 6 – A higher rating from Thompson compared to Williams, largely because of his abillity to hound the opposition midfield. Whilst we were chasing shadows after Coventry’s early goal we didn’t see much created from the visitors, with Thompson as you expect winning his fair shares of 50 50 challenges.

Fred Onyedinma – 4 – Fred Onyedinma, the player I was calling for in my last post to get a chance in the side to show us what he can do. Having come on as a substitute last time out against Bradford to play up front, I expected the same with the team on Saturday when the teams were announced. Unfortunately, despite having Wylde and Ferguson on the bench Harris wanted Onyedinma on the left hand side of a four man midfield. First to get subbed off, I struggle to understand what Harris was hoping to see from the pacy attacker on the left side.

Aiden O’Brien – 6 – A lower rating was destined for O’Brien but for his superb finish in the box late in the second half. Another like Onyedinma struggling to suggest where he should be playing on the pitch, with Harris moving O’Brien around throughout the match. We desperately miss Gregory’s involvement in the side, but equally I shouldn’t take anything away from O’Brien’s finish to earn us a point.

Steve Morison – 6 – Not the vintage Morison performance we’d expect however a noteworthy contribution from Morison to drag us over the line and earn a point on Saturday. Having just bollocked his team mates in a break of play due to an injury, Morison was set free down the right hand side and laid on a perfect delivery for O’Brien to guide the ball into the back of the net. As I stated above with Craig, why does it take Morison to have a go instead of our captain?

Subs

Shane Ferguson – 5

Calum Butcher – N/A

Jamie Philpot – N/A

Millwall Vs Sheffield United – Player Ratings

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This weekend The Lions got back to winning ways with a 2-1 victory over struggling Sheffield United. Having lost 5-1 last time out away to Peterborough, the most important outcome from Saturday was the result.

It might not have been the game to catch everyone’s attention, however it was probably the most pleasing win as we managed to dig deep and win ugly. As I had mentioned in my last post, it was going to be that sort of occasion with passion overtaking the importance of the performance.

Having got ahead early in the first half through a superb Williams goal, the team sat back and invited the visitors onto us. United got their equaliser minutes after our opener with miscommunication between Craig and Archer, and the keeper allowing the ball through his legs into the net.

After nursing our way to a 1-1 game at half time, the side came out much the better side with Gregory earning two chances immediately after the restart. Unfortunately having failed to convert on both occasions, it felt like we had blown our chances of taking all three points away from the game.

Thankfully, after building up the pressure on the visitors, defender O’Connell offered a lifeline to Millwall, having handled the ball and denying Morison a free header on goal. With Gregory off the pitch due to injury, Morison stepped up himself and done the business, sending Moore in goal for Sheffield United the wrong way and winning us the three points right at the death.

As I already mentioned above, what was most pleasing leaving The Den on Saturday was the manner of the victory. After last Tuesday pressure was on Harris and his players, and with only two changes to the XI from that defeat to Peterborough, Harris put a lot of faith in clearly what he sees as his best side. Below, as always you can find my player ratings…

Starting XI

Jordan Archer – 6 – Collectively at fault for the goal conceded with Craig, the spotlight was very much on Archer with news in the build up emerging he is yet to decide on the clubs contract offer. I felt Archer had a solid game barring his mistake, and hopefully the contract situation is sorted ASAP.

Mahlon Romeo – 6 – Solid once again from Romeo, who I felt was kept a tad quiet on the overlap, but was able to deal with any threat defensively. It’s easy to forget this is Romeo’s first full season as a first team player, but so far so good from the young full back.

Byron Webster – 8 – My man of the match, I felt Webster was the presence we needed in defence in a game where pressure was certainly high on the team. Comparable to a Paul Robinson display for me, was reliable against a tricky forward such as Billy Sharp, and didn’t take any risks in mopping up at the back.

Tony Craig – 6 – With Harris keeping his captain in the team, the spotlight was very much on Craig after the last match. I didn’t think Craig would play, and has to take a share of the blame for the goal we conceded, however but for that mistake it was a job done performance from the testimonial man.

Joe Martin – 6 – Likewise to Craig, I felt at times Martin struggled with the Sheffield United attack, however seemed to grow into the match in the second half. Probably still not 100% having missed much of pre-season, I felt Martin did what was required in helping us win on Saturday.

David Worrall – 6 – Sat out of the last game due to a niggling injury, Worrall’s return to the side was much welcomed by everyone. Perhaps not his best game since signing for the club, the threat he brings alone from set plays was a welcome return.

Shaun Williams – 7 – The missed man at Peterborough, Williams couldn’t have hoped for a better return to the side on the weekend. Taking his goal superbly with a low drive into the bottom corner from the edge of the box, hopefully we can see a few more of those over the course of the season.

Ben Thompson – 7 – In my preview I felt Thompson might’ve benefited from a game or two out of the starting XI, however next to Williams the pair continued the growing partnership in midfield. With no Abdou in the side, Thompson showed his ability to breakup play and set us on the attack, keeping tabs of the United midfield throughout the second half.

Aiden O’Brien – 6 – Continuing on the left hand side, the game seemed to pass by O’Brien with not much of an impact throughout his 70 minute spell on the pitch.

Lee Gregory – 6 – On another day perhaps could’ve left the ground with the match ball. Unlucky not to get on the scoresheet and proved a threat as always on the last line of defence. Going down again with a knock and leaving the game early, hopefully only a precaution for Gregory.

Steve Morison – 7 – The match winner, Morison seems to have a knack of coming up trumps when we are in real need of a result. Having missed a few penalties in the past I weren’t quite too sure what to expect, but the confidence in his finish was typical Morison.

SUBS

Shane Ferguson – 6 – Not on the pitch for long, however I felt highlighted his contribution on the left side of midfield when his cross brought the handball offence for the penalty. 

Fred Onyedinma – N/A –

Millwall Vs Sheffield United – My Preferred XI

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Tomorrow afternoon we welcome The Blades, Sheffield United to The Den. Having suffered our first defeat of the season away to Peterborough in our 5-1 humiliation, Saturday presents the perfect sort of game for a whole hearted display.

With the visitors yet to pick up a win this season, they languish at the bottom at this early stage and themselves will be looking to bounce back having lost 3-0 at home on Tuesday night. Under new manager Wilder, they play a more direct style of play, and we will need to be alert to their speed in attack on Saturday.

With changes guaranteed tomorrow, here is my starting XI I believe Harris should go with:

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In total, I’d make four changes to the XI that folded on Tuesday night away to Peterborough. No shocks pulled with Archer continuing in goal, with competition for the number one shirt not at its highest, we have no choice but to continue faith with the keeper. Having emerged during the week he is yet to make a decision on the clubs contract offer, all eyes will be on Archer, and I hope a good display arrives.

In the backline, I have two changes with Martin and Craig being dropped to the bench, and Nelson and Chesmain coming into the first XI. Albeit both young and in Chesmain’s case hugely inexperienced, with both Martin and Craig poor on Tuesday it’s a chance for the these two youngsters to come in and stack a claim.

Chesmain hugely impressed in pre-season, and looks to fit the bill to be a full back at the club, he is the left footed version of Romeo to me. With Nelson we know what to expect, a no nonsense display with perhaps an odd error along the way, for me the only way he will improve is if he is playing. With Craig disappointing on Tuesday, and Hutchinson picking up an injury a chance needs to be afforded to Nelson.

On the right side of defence I’ve kept both Webster and Romeo in the XI. Neither walked out with much credit on Tuesday night, but both are the type of characters we need at the minute, players who show they care hugely about results.

In midfield I’ve gone for a complete shake up with Williams and Abdou in the centre and Worrall and Ferguson starting on either flank. I don’t think many would’ve expected it this season, but we missed Williams in the midfield on Tuesday. Not that I think he would’ve influenced the result much more, but the way he has started the season makes him an automatic choice in the side.

The most noticeable absentee is the demotion of Thompson to the bench, not that I think Thompson was to blame on Tuesday night, I just feel Thompson would benefit from sitting out the start of this game. With Abdou, we know what we’re going to get from Jimmy, and against a side like Sheffield United who will look to be direct on Saturday, we could do with Abdou’s energy in the middle.

Worrall should return to the XI with Harris not risking the winger on Tuesday night late on when the game was put to bed. We missed his presence on the right, and hopefully returning him to the side will bring back our strengths on the wing. I’ve also put Ferguson in the team, on the same basis of his ability to get a delivery into the box, not only this he would also be able to provide support to Chesmain when in defence.

Up top no shocks as always with Morison and Gregory leading the line. Much like MK Dons the pair were very isolated on Tuesday night, and I believe with Worrall and Ferguson coming into the side, we would be able to provide support to the forward line from the wide areas. Despite Morison’s outburst on Tuesday towards the fans, without the forward in the side we dearly miss his presence and know how in attack.

So that’s my XI, what do you make of the team and what would you like to see yourself for tomorrow’s game?

Meltdown After First Defeat Of The Season – ‘The Millwall Way’

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It wouldn’t be the Millwall way without a huge wake up call along the way would it? After suffering our first defeat of the season, the aftermath is a reaction I don’t think anyone would’ve anticipated.

I’ve tried three times to write my player ratings article, as I try to do each and every game. However, each time I find myself repeating the same flaws and negatives for each and every player.

To sum the match up, Peterborough were clearly on song and up for the match, whereas we were as far opposite as physically possible. Slow to react to attacking movement, sluggish with our passing on the ball, it was a real let down from the team, with many fans hoping for a typical good result on the road.

We all knew what to expect from the home side, as I had mentioned over and over again in my last post, they’re a side who like to play from the back, and cause havoc up top with their three forwards leading the line. The movement done our defenders, with Craig and Webster having no chance to keep up with Maddison, Taylor and Nichols.

I don’t think any player comes out of that game with any credit, our young keeper who is the best in the league was far from that. Our strikers who dominate defences done nothing, and our midfield full of energy and ability to get stuck in were nowhere to be seen.

It couldn’t have gone any worse if we decided to just stop playing, and despite this result only being our first of the season, it seems there is more behind the scenes that need to be rectified as soon as possible. Okay, we got battered and played off the park in a 5-1 defeat, however what has caused major speculation is the post match comments from manager Neil Harris. Obviously hurt and let down by his players, the manager had some choice words after the match…

After one defeat, granted a terrible result and performance, the whole interview after the game feels like overkill. If we had walked away from the night as 5-1 winners, comments like this would be nowhere to be seen. These words from Harris just feel like excuses where his players were outclassed on the night, Peterborough done a job on us, having clearly done their homework.

Nonetheless the words are worrying, with no one quite sure who they were aimed at from the squad. My logical guess is the words were aimed at Jordan Archer, with only a year to go on his existing deal, it’s been mentioned a couple of times in pre-season how the club hoped to sit down and tie the keeper down to a longer deal.

Having let Forde go out on loan to Portsmouth, and Harris confirming he won’t recall the keeper we’ve put all our eggs into one basket with Archer. Now our number one with no direct competition from his understudy Tom King, I think he and his agent feel they have bargaining power to get a deal to suit them. Of course, if you were a key player, it’s not out of order to be pushing for a deal worthy of this squad status.

Another talking point from the night has been the reaction from the fans in the stands on Tuesday, with others believing we are too quick to be negative and give stick to the players. To be honest, having been at the game on Tuesday every fan at London Road has a right to moan about being 3-0 down after 20 minutes, especially when you factor in the costs of following the club.

At half time, fans either love him or hate him but Steve Morison obviously didn’t take kindly to the stick and was giving it back to our own fans. But for me Morison didn’t have a leg to stand on, and giving it back hasn’t done him any favours, what does he want us to do when we are getting thrashed and the team are performing in such a manner?

With Harris coming out like this, what does this do to the morale of the squad? You can guarantee changes will be made on Saturday for our game against Sheffield United, and you’d imagine the likes of Nelson and Onyedinma may get their chance to make their mark on the first XI and keep their place in the team.

Going into a game like Sheffield United at home though, there isn’t anyone else I’d want in charge than Harris. Will we win? No one quite knows, however one thing is for sure it will be a side leaving everything out on the pitch and doing their best to earn the three points up for grabs.