After the successful 5-0 victory against Dartford, Millwall's next pre-season friendly is against the League Two side, Cambridge United at the Abbey Stadium. The Lions have recently been away in Portugal and taken part in some behind closed doors friendlies, so this fixture will be a good test to see if the targeted fitness levels have been reached.
Cambridge United's pre-season form has been inspiring, with a respectable 2-2 midweek draw with Charlton Athletic following impressive 7-1, 8-1 and 4-0 victories against St. Neots Town, Cambridge City and Royston Town respectively.
With the start of the season getting closer and with both teams predicted to have a challenging year in their respective leagues, this will be a stern test for both sides. Cambridge will be confident going in to this one on the back of their pre-season results, but the Lions will be the toughest test the U's have faced so far...
Haven't we met before?...
Millwall 3-2 Cambridge United, 14th January 2003 - The Lions just about scraped their way through this FA Cup replay against the battling Division Three side. All goals came in the second half with Dave Kitson putting the visitors in front before Steve Claridge equalised from the spot for Millwall. Tom Youngs then put Cambridge back in front before goals from Paul Robinson and Paul Ifill secured Millwall's place in the fourth round. The game could have gone to extra time as Cambridge fought for an equaliser, but the Lions just hung on to secure the victory.
This will be another game where we will expect to see a lot of changes and the possibility of two different elevens in each half, but there are no new injury or fitness issues for the Lions going into this one. Centre-back Byron Webster, who missed the majority of last season with a long-term knee injury, impressed in the 5-0 victory at Princes Park. The 31-year-old came out recently and said he wouldn't be a cheerleader like he was last year, so expect him to feature prominently and perhaps with the captain's armband again.
David Forde will be likely to return in goal for United, who like the Lions should experiment with their line-up and formations. Cambridge manager Joe Dunne heaped praise on the club's youngsters recently, but believes there's still more to come from his side. Several of the academy such as Tom Knowles, Leon Davies and Sam Squire featured in the 2-2 draw with the Addicks and although Dunne challenged his young side to continue to learn and become more 'complete' players, the U's fans can be confident these players are on the right path.
THE ONE TO WATCH -
David Forde's Millwall career may have ended quietly after he was released following his season-long loan spell at Portsmouth, but the former Irish international remains a popular name at The Den. The experienced goalkeeper may've sat out a number of pre-season games so far, but he is likely to return to face his former club. Neil Harris will know what to expect from his former number one and although Forde departed The Den in a respectable way, he will want to put on a good show for the away fans.
Who are ya?!
For this week’s ‘Who are ya?’ we sit down with Matt Ramsay, press association correspondent for Cambridge United’s home matches. We ask Matt what he thinks of United’s pre-season form, who Millwall will need to watch out for and what the home fans make of David Forde….
Cambridge’s pre-season form has been magnificent, with a respectable 2-2 draw with Charlton being the only result so far that hasn’t resulted in victory. Should the fans be excited for the season ahead?
The fan base isn’t getting over-excited this year after the speed with which any optimism disappeared at the start of the last campaign when Shaun Derry was in charge, but the bulk of the squad which ended 17-18 so well under his replacement Joe Dunne has been kept together. If the exciting attacking play of those last months can be replicated, then fans will have few complaints and the team could challenge.
David Forde is an ex-Lion who is now between the sticks. How has he settled in and how have the fans taken to him?
He kept 16 clean sheets in League Two last season, second only to title-winning Accrington’s Aaron Chapman, so it’s fair to say that Forde had a hugely positive impact at the U’s. Especially impressive before Christmas, the team would have been in a far worse position in League Two had it not been for him. That kind of form made it easy for the fan base to warm to him quickly.
Cambridge finished in a respectable 12th place last season, although their goal difference was -4. Was the problem a lack of firepower or that the defence was easily penetrated?
The number of clean sheets Forde managed gives a clear indication that goals at the other end of the pitch was the big concern. Defensively United were solid for much of the season, with notable exceptions of conceding seven at Luton and five at Forest Green. George Maris ended the season with ten goals, all of which came after Christmas, and the campaign ended with a 5-0 win against Port Vale so there were clear signs of improvement towards in the tail end of the year.
Which summer signing are you most excited about and who should the Millwall fans watch out for?
There have only been a few new signings, matched by a similarly small number of outgoings, so there aren’t too many new faces to learn. As the attacking player of those arrivals, Reggie Lambe is the one who will hopefully provide an additional spark of creativity. Winger David Amoo is shaping up to be the player who could be a star, and certainly one who will terrify defences with his electric pace.
What is your score prediction?
I don’t imagine either side will be enormously alarmed by a disappointing result but equally this game represents United’s most challenging pre-season fixture, so there might be more focus on the result than the fitness-centric games of the last few weeks. I’ll go for a 1-1 draw.
PREDICTION: CAMBRIDGE UNITED 0-1 MILLWALL
Although this is a friendly, this will be a tricky game for both sides. Cambridge will want to give this a go against a team from a higher division and Millwall will see this as a potential banana skin. I can see the Lions being just too strong for the League Two side, but I think the score line will be close. With that said, I don't think either side will be too disappointed with a negative result as long as the performance on the pitch is a positive one.