17:30, Saturday 21st October 2017, The Den
Millwall’s first televised home game of The Championship season will be under the floodlights, with some key players missing the curtain call. Byron Webster and Shaun Williams are long term absentees for The Lions, and a late assessment will confirm whether Steve Morison will be fit for The Blues first visit back to The Den, since they were 3-1 winners in South London in September 2014. Birmingham also have been unlucky with injuries and will be without on-loan defender Carl Jenkinson and experienced goalkeeper David Stockdale.
This will be a hard game to judge on form. Millwall were enjoying an impressive four game unbeaten run before losing their last two games 3-1 at home to Barnsley; before a controversially awarded, yet missed penalty resulted in Brentford beating The Lions 1-0. After a disastrous start to the season, The Blues sacked manager Harry Redknapp and appointed Steve Cotterill who, on his first game in charge, led Birmingham to a 1-0 win over Championship leaders Cardiff City.
Birmingham City are something of a bogey team for Millwall, being undefeated against the South London team in their last nine visits to The Den and scoring 19 goals in their last five visits. Millwall fans needn’t be disheartened by these stats, as the last time the two sides met, Millwall were 1-0 victors with Alan Dunne scoring the winning goal for the team then led by Ian Holloway.
LAST TIME OUT
Brentford 1-0 Millwall – Millwall’s visit to Griffin Park ended in defeat after Lee Gregory missed a controversially awarded penalty, which was given after a foul on Jed Wallace when arguably the advantage should have been given. Brentford’s Romaine Sawyer scored his first goal of the season and The Bee’s only goal of a very open game, which either team could have won if they had been more clinical in front of goal.
Birmingham City 1-0 Cardiff City – A winning first game for new boss Steve Cotterill, with Che Adams scoring the only goal of the game against Neil Warnock’s Bluebirds. Birmingham could’ve been more comfortable winners if Che Adams or Jacques Maghoma would’ve been more decisive in a second-half scramble.
(4-4-2): Archer; McLaughlin, Hutchinson, Cooper, Meredith; Wallace, Tunnicliffe, Saville, O’Brien; Gregory, Elliott
Millwall’s side have been hit by injuries, so the Millwall side picks itself. Fred Onyedinma is a player who can make a big impact from the bench if Millwall are searching for an extra spark or cutting edge against Birmingham City’s tired legs.
(4-5-1): Kuszczak; Colin, Morrison, Roberts, Grounds; Keiftenbeld, Davis, N’Doye, Adams, Maghoma; Vassell
Birmingham show their strength between the sticks ,when even with Stockdale injured they can rely on the experience of Kuszczak. Che Adams is the obvious dangerman that Millwall need to be wary of.
Che Adams (Birmingham City) v Shaun Hutchinson (Millwall)
Che Adams was the match winner against Cardiff and has a lot of natural talent. Shaun Hutchinson has been one of Millwall’s star performers this season and seems to have put his injury issues well and truly behind him. Hutchinson has taken the armband in the absence of club captain and deputy captain Steve Morison, but does he have enough to keep the talented Adams quiet?
Millwall’s lack of goals up front
Although energetic and has scored this season, Lee Gregory needs to be deadlier in front of goal at Championship level. He gets in the right positions and causes defenders a tough afternoon, but his finishing can be inconsistent and we cannot afford that at a level where chances are few. Questions over penalty duty also makes fans question whether Chopper does not have the faith in Gregory he may have once had?
Have Birmingham turned the corner?
Although it may appear premature and a case of new manager syndrome, Birmingham go into Saturday’s game with a confidence that they did not have under Harry Redknapp. The large number of new signings pre-season may not have helped Harry’s case, but have these new signings finally gelled and can they cause the Championship problems?
Millwall 1-1 Birmingham City
Millwall need to stop the losing run they are currently in and with a list of injuries to key players, I think Millwall would take a home draw. After Birmingham’s win, they may be settled for an away draw or a smash-and-grab win if they are lucky. Both team need the points so will be very tight, with little chances and two teams very wary at the back.