19:45, Friday 29th December, The Den
Millwall's last game of the year is at home during the peak pantomime season, and how fitting that the manager of the opposition is the panto villain, ex-Millwall manager, Ian Holloway.
Although Neil Harris will project an image of calmness and discipline to his side and the fans, he will be desperate to get one over on the man who has showed little to no class towards Harris since his sacking from Bermondsey in March 2015. Holloway put Millwall's relegation solely at the feet of Neil Harris and the Millwall fans, when ultimately it was his chaotic regime and employing as many of his trusted (but ineffective) seven dwarves as he could, that led to this.
After a 2-2 draw at Loftus Road at the beginning of the season, which involved Holloway jumping and dancing around like Christopher Biggins as Buttons in Cinderella, the QPR fans have been divided on their manager, whilst Harris has shown what a class act he is. Both managers will be desperate for a result to finish the year off. The atmosphere will be a combination of toxicity and electricity. Bring it on.
LAST TIME OUT
MILLWALL 2-2 Wolves - Millwall produced a battling and never-say-die attitude against a side that boasted millions of pounds worth of talent. A game that on paper Millwall had no right to get any type of result from, a real show of character when 2-1 down was rewarded with a late equaliser from Jake Cooper and a well earned point.
Ipswich 0-0 QPR - Although QPR had the best chance of the game after half time, the game ended goalless and the points were shared. To go to Portman Road and get a draw isn't easy and QPR will go into the game at The Den with an air of confidence.
MILLWALL (4-4-2): Archer; Romeo, Hutchinson, Cooper, Meredith; Wallace, Williams, Saville, O'Brien; Gregory, Morison
McLaughlin and Elliott will be assessed before the game after picking up strains against Wolves. Romeo may be preferred either way, impressing after being brought on as a sub, but Morison and Gregory will be preferred over Elliott.
QPR (3-5-2): Smithies; Wszolek, Baptiste, Onouha; Robinson, Hall, Freeman, Luongo, Bidwell; Cousins, Sylla
Two players who will not be up for contention are Stephen Caulker and Josh Scowen, with the former leaving the club by mutual consent and the latter serving a ban. Jamie Mackie is also available after a ban.
KEY BATTLE: NEIL HARRIS (MILLWALL) VS IAN HOLLOWAY (QPR)
The key battle this week will not be on the pitch, but off of it. In his career so far as Millwall manager, he has managed at Wembley twice and also against then Premier League Champion Claudio Ranieri. But this is something different. As much as he will play this down, it will be incredibly difficult to stand in the same dugout as someone who has made this such a personal matter. Chopper will need to bite his lip until it draws blood, but he bleeds Millwall Blue and will have a packed house fully behind him.
Can we keep our cool?
Yes, football is a professional game now and yes, loyalties may not be as strong as they used to be, but with The Den packed and against a man who has written you off, will some emotion spill on to the pitch? It isn't just Neil Harris who has a score to settle with Holloway, but Gregory too. Under Holloway, Gregory's career was slipping downhill fast, and after his red card against QPR at Loftus Road the pair clashed again. Gregory needs to do his job, replicate the performances against Sheffield United and Wolves and let his feet do the talking.
Holloway certainly milks the media spotlight he is under and prides himself on being a character, but this also does work in his favour at times. If the QPR fans have no idea what he is up to most of the time, there's a good chance the opposition manager does not know also. This could work for Holloway and he will try every tactic he can think of to get a win over The Lions.
PREDICTION: MILLWALL 2-0 QPR
I can see nothing but a Millwall win here. Holloway will try too hard to get a result and this will be his undoing. Chopper has been dignified, classy and shown just how far he has come as a manager by not getting involved in any ill-feeling. He will instil a fight and a desire to get a result and The Den will be rocking. Lee Gregory will be eager to find the back of the net also, so don't be surprised to see him on the score sheet.