17:30, Saturday 28th April, Riverside Stadium
This is the next ‘Cup Final’ type game for the Lions as they travel to the Riverside Stadium to face Middlesbrough.
To call this game huge for both sides would be an understatement. Millwall need the win to keep their hopes of a play-off place alive, whilst Middlesbrough have to win to guarantee that top six place.
The head-to-head at the Riverside does lean in Millwall’s favour, with the South London side winning three and drawing one, and although the Lions have lost their unbeaten run in the league, they are still unbeaten in their last nine away league matches. However, this is the first time Tony Pulis has faced Millwall since 2007 and he last lost to the Lions in 2003. This is too close to call…
LAST TIME OUT
MILLWALL 0-3 Fulham: A spirited first half performance wasn’t enough for Millwall, as a Ryan Sessegnon inspired second half saw the Lions concede three at home and end their seventeen game unbeaten league run. Further goals from Kevin McDonald and Aleksander Mitrovic ensured the Cottagers left The Den with the three points.
Derby County 1-2 MIDDLESBROUGH: Although Derby at times posed a threat to Boro, Tony Pulis’ side did what they needed to do and got the win away at Pride Park. Muhamed Besic’s goal in the 20th minute was the catalyst for Boro’s victory with a 70th minute goal from Britt Assombalonga securing the victory.
Middlesbrough should stick with the same line up that were victorious against Derby. Boro have strength in depth with Patrick Bamford on the bench after returning from injury, so expect to see him feature at some point.
Neil Harris will stick with his strongest line-up for this tie, and Tim Cahill’s three match ban will be the only change on the bench. Byron Webster remains Millwall’s only long-term absence, but the defender has returned to full contact training.
KEY BATTLE: Britt Assombalonga (Middlesbrough) vs. Shaun Hutchinson (Millwall)
Britt Assombalonga had a great first half to the season, but his goal scoring has dried up a bit in recent games. With that said, Assombalonga is still a constant threat and showed glimpses of what he can do in the earlier fixture at The Den. Shaun Hutchinson will need to be at his very best when facing the man whose last two transfer totals combined costs more than the entire Millwall side.
Will Villa help the Lions?
Although this is big game for Millwall, there is another side that the Lions fans will have their eye firmly on. Derby currently occupy 6th place but have been in dreadful form and playing with very little confidence. If Aston Villa are victorious in the earlier league fixture, this could inspire Millwall to victory.
Millwall’s recent unbeaten run made our fans believe that we could make the Premier League and although it took a great second half performance to defeat the Lions, the defeat against Fulham has dampened our expectations. Neil Harris has said that the loss will not affect the players, but this has made the journey into the top six that little bit harder.
Prediction: Middlesbrough 0-1 Millwall
Neil Harris’ side have shown that they can rise to the occasion in big games and they will in this fixture. Tony Pulis’ side defend well and will be tough to break down, but I can see the Morison and Gregory partnership being too much for Boro. Come on you Lions.