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Millwall preview and pub guide: Lions finally starting to roar

Millwall preview and pub guide: Lions finally starting to roar
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Millwall have recovered from a sticky start to the season to hit their best run of form so far as they arrive at Griffin Park.

The Lions, who came close to reaching the play-offs last season following an unbeaten 17-game league run, were 23rd in the table at the end of September after only winning one of their first 10 Championship matches.

But they picked up 10 points out of a possible 15 in October, thanks to three successive home wins and a comeback draw at Nottingham Forest (2-2), to move up to 18th – four points clear of the relegation zone.

Aside from Forest, their only other point on the road came in their opening away game at Blackburn (0-0) and they have been beaten five times on their travels.

They did reach the Carabao Cup second round by beating Plymouth 3-2, but slipped out 3-1 at home to Fulham.

This is Millwall’s seventh season out of nine in the Championship, and in all but two of them they have finished in the bottom half of the table.

They have had a fairly settled side this season, including full-back Mahlon Romeo, who is the son of Soul II Soul’s Jazzie B, seen here aged 12 when his father collected an OBE in 2008.

Mahlon Romeo (aged 12) and Jazzy B

WHO’S IN CHARGE

Former Millwall striker Neil Harris took over as manager following the Lions’ relegation in 2015.

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He is the longest-serving boss in the Championship and the 11th overall in the country.

He had been caretaker manager for the closing weeks of the previous 2013/14 season and nearly saved them from the drop a year later with two wins and four draws in his nine matches in charge.

That was his second temporary spell at the helm following one at the end of 2013.

Harris is Millwall’s all-time record goalscorer – finding the net 138 times for the club in two spells as a player lasting 10 years in total.

He also played for Nottingham Forest and finished his career at Southend, while he had loan spells at Cardiff and Gillingham.

WE’VE MET BEFORE

Brentford have had the better of our four meetings with Millwall in the Championship with two wins and a draw.

In 2013/14 we won a ding-dong game at The Den 3-2 thanks to two goals from Andre Gray and an own goal from Dan Shittu, after the Lions had hit back from 2-0 down to level with two goals in two minutes from Lee Gregory and Alan Dunne.

It was the Bees’ turn to stage a fightback in he return at Griffin Park the following March as, after Gregory and Aiden O’Brien put Millwall 2-0 up, we struck twice in the last five minutes with an Alex Pritchard penalty and a strike from Moses Odubajo.

Romaine Sawyers hit the only goal two minutes after half-time to give us a 1-0 win in last season’s match at Griffin Park, although we had to rely on Dan Bentley saving a late Gregory penalty to preserve all three points.

Ex-Bee George Saville was on target in the first minute at The Den in March and that was enough to give Millwall a 1-0 win in the return.

OPPOSITION VIEW

BBC London commentator and presenter Phil Parry looks through Millwall’s season so far, analyses what the loss of ex-Bee George Saville has meant to them and names the Lions players to watch on Saturday.

Q – How would you assess Millwall’s season so far – better than expected, worse than expected or roughly where you thought they would be?

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A – I know that this may be stating the bleedin’ obvious but it’s been a real mixed bag so far – a good solid start with points picked up against the likes of Middlesbrough and Derby, a worrying drop-off in form and a positive recent recovery.

Perhaps after the excitement of the second half of last season the momentum would have been expected to have been carried over into the current campaign and it appeared so. I suppose expectation would have had the Lions slightly higher up the table, but they have accrued just one less point than at this stage last season, so perhaps upward movement is on the cards.

Q – Why did the Lions make such a poor start after coming so close to the play-offs last year and what have they done to turn things round in October with 10 points out of 15?

A – Well things started OK, but Neil Harris had not been able to conduct too much business in the close season and it is a bit of a sporting norm that squads need a little bit of a freshening regardless of what has gone before. Also there were one or two injury issues – for example Shaun Hutchinson, who has a been a keystone at the back in the last couple of seasons. And despite having replacements, the Geordie is a big character to replace.

I wonder too if the Millwall high intensity and work rate takes a while to kick back in after a summer break, warm pre-season and a relentless start to the campaign. There were also those transfer rumours which can be a little unsettling to players who may be coveted at other clubs.

There is also the theory that some may propose that just missing out last season could have had a hangover and coming to terms with that will take time. I am less convinced by that argument, but do think that the rather staccato start to the Championship season which has international breaks inserted in-between very busy runs of games can exacerbate a bad run of results.

Q – How much is ex-Brentford midfielder George Saville being missed this season?

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A – George was a key player last year, hardly missing a game, chipping in with important goals and anchoring his role in a rather consistent line-up. His position in the middle of the spine is an important one and his departure coming once the season has started means that a replacement has to be found for someone whose name was expected on the teamsheet.

But one of the strengths of Millwall is that the team ethos is stronger than the individual, so when things are sent to try them, that is when a positive response is often elicited. Saville’s departure was tempered with a couple of signings which the squad needed, Ryan Leonard in particular and of course Tom Bradshaw, to add strength and experience in key positions.

Q – Who are the key players the Bees should watch out for on Saturday?

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A – Again it might seem like a cliché but the most important thing for the Lions is collective effort and responsibility and that togetherness is a major strength. As for individuals, then Ryan Leonard has slotted into the system well, and Lee Gregory is among the goals again this season. Jed Wallace has creativity wide while Jake Cooper is not only a strong defender but a real nuisance in the opposition penalty area. I am a huge fan of what Steve Morison brings to the party either from the start of the game or off the bench, while both regular full-backs are worth watching.

Q – What style of play should we expect to see from the visitors?

A – Millwall are a very hard-working and honest team who do not give the opposition a minute’s rest. They have players of attacking quality and guile who are ready to look for gaps and exploit attacking positions. They also have goals from all departments from the forwards through midfield and the defenders who are very useful at set pieces.

Neil Harris and David Livermore have constructed a really well-organised unit who make it hard to create chances against.

Q – Finally can you give me a predicted Lions line-up and formation please?

A – 4 – 4 – 2

Amos

Romeo                                      Hutchinson                    Cooper/Wallace                        Meredith

Wallace                                   Leonard                                Williams                                Fergusson

Elliot/Morison                      Gregory

IAN WESTBROOK
@ianwestbrook

 

PUBS IN BRENTFORD AND TRAVEL NEWS

** BEWARE OF ROAD AND RAIL DISRUPTION ON SATURDAY – DETAILS BELOW **

For Millwall fans coming to the game, you are probably aware there plenty of pub options pre-match and all are most welcoming and away-fan-friendly (as it should be).

As you are probably well aware, Brentford is well known for its four pubs – one on each corner of the ground.

The Griffin is closest to the away end (like 30 secs walk) and is very popular with away fans – but also very, very busy. The New Inn is on the other side and is also popular with away fans. The Princess Royal and the Royal Oak are the other options.

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Other pubs slightly further afield for the more creative amongst you include (and this is by no means a definitive list) …. The Globe (Windmill Rd) & The Lord Nelson (Enfield Rd) are both incredibly friendly and cosy away-friendly pubs and about 1 min walk from each other …. frequented by ‘away fans in the know’.

The Plough (Northfields Ave) in Northfields is a decent stop-off if you are coming by tube to Northfields. The ‘Northfields run’ makes a much better pub crawl route than South Ealing – getting off at Northfields station, turning left and stopping off at The Plough (2 min walk), The Lord Nelson (10 min walk from The Plough) & The Globe (1 min walk from The Nelson) en-route before ending up at The Griffin (8 min walk from The Globe) by the away turnstiles.

There’s also a relatively new tiny microbrewery pub in Northfields called The Owl and The Pussycat (Northfields Ave)– right turn out of the station away from the ground as opposed to left.

There is a pub right by Brentford mainline station referred to as … the Pub by Brentford station.

For real ale head to the Magpie and Crown pub on Brentford High Street. The Royal Horseguardsman (Ealing Road) can probably hold 15 of you at a push.

The Brewery Tap (Catherine Wheel Road) is a cosy boozer by the river. And if you are super-adventurous, get off at Kew Bridge and visit One Over the Ait (Kew Bridge Road) – a spacious boozer right next to Kew Bridge, and across from the site of the Bees’ new stadium at Lionel Road, with a deck overlooking the river – and The Express Tavern (Kew Bridge Road) – an ale pub with a retro feel. There are a load more pubs in the river in Kew if that takes your fancy.

A quick Google search and you’ll find them all. There are many, many more too if you have a look around.

Parking near the stadium is a no no but is pretty easy in the streets north of Griffin Park on the other side of the A4 Great West Rd via Ealing Road or Windmill Road. Make sure you look our for the parking signs which change from area to area.

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Getting to Brentford from town – many fans get the tube to Waterloo (Northern, Jubilee lines) or Vauxhall (Victoria Line) then take the Overground train to Brentford, although because of strike action there are no trains on the branch this Saturday.

There are also road disruptions around Griffin Park – full details here.

By tube, it’s 35 minutes to South Ealing or Northfields stations from King’s Cross or Euston (less from Paddington) and then 15 minutes walk to Griffin Park from there (4 mins on the bus) – more if you take the Northfields to Brentford pub crawl outlined above (Plough, Lord Nelson, Globe, Griffin) of course. If you’re feeling lazy you could take the E2 bus from outside Northfields station to either outside The Globe pub (3 stops – serves The Lord Nelson too) or Brentford FC (4 stops).

 

You can check out Transport for London’s guide to travel on the Tube and Overground.

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About The Author

Ian Westbrook

Bees fan since 1971 - been through all the ups and downs. Written about, reported on, commentated on and wittered on about all things Brentford in that time as well as watching hundreds, if not thousands of games, and loved every minute of it!

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