Millwall’s pre-season game sees the Lions travel to the Colchester Community Stadium for this midweek game with Colchester United.
Both teams' summer so far has been respectable, with Neil Harris’ side being victorious against Dartford FC and Cambridge United 5-0 and 2-0 respectively. United’s pre-season has been a bit more challenging, with a narrow 1-0 win over Dartford following a 1-1 draw with Conference side, Dagenham and Redbridge.
This fixture will be a tough test for Neil Harris’ side and the Millwall manager will not take this game lightly. Chopper will rotate the squad from the one that started against Cambridge United, but he will expect nothing but 100% from his side.
Haven't we met before?...
Colchester United 0-0 Millwall, 2nd April 2016 – Both sides were at opposite ends of the table with Millwall seeking the play-offs, whilst Colchester were trying to avoid the relegation zone and the trapdoor to League Two. Lee Gregory had the opportunity to put the Lions 1-0 up, but unfortunately for Millwall, the centre forward blazed over the bar. Jordan Archer pulled off a great save to deny Elliott Lee, before Chris Taylor nearly sealed the victory for the Lions, but his deflected effort hit the woodwork.
As with the previous pre-season fixtures, there will be a number of changes to both sides and also at half-time.
Neil Harris said recently that the majority of players who did not start against Cambridge will start in this fixture, as he wants to ensure the squad get the right number of minutes and fitness before the Middlesbrough game. Ben Amos is expected to start in goal and Byron Webster, Murray Wallace and James Meredith are also expected to make up part of the back four.
Several of Colchester’s summer signings have impressed so far, Wolves loanee striker Aaron Collins in particular. Experienced front-runner Frank Nouble and former Cheltenham man Harry Pell look sure to be a force for the U’s.
THE ONE TO WATCH -
By his manager’s own admission, Courtney Senior was a bit wasteful against Dartford but he was the stand out player in the pre-season victory. Explosively fast and with a turn of pace which catches many off-guard, Senior is a young, up-and-coming talent with bags of potential. After coming on as a late substitute against Forest Green Rovers after a knee injury that required surgery, he bagged his first goal for the club with a goal in injury-time. The summer fixtures will be an opportunity for the Croydon-born winger to show exactly what he can do and could give the Millwall full-backs a torrid time.
Who are ya?!
For this week’s ‘Who are ya?’ we sit down with Mike Heaps, the Secretary of the Colchester United Supporters Association. Mike tells us why the Colchester back-line were so strong last season, who they are looking out for in League Two and what he thinks the score line will be.
You finished 13th in the table last season, was this an expected finish from the fans or were you expecting a play-off push?
We were expecting a play off push, especially as we recovered from a slow start to be well placed at Christmas. However, we had a poor January and then showed indifferent form for the rest of the season.
You scored 53 goals in the league last season, but you also conceded 52 over the 46 games. You let in less goals than Wycombe who went up automatically, so why weren’t your forwards firing?
Defensively we were pretty good, even though, Luke Prosser, our captain did not return until mid January. Before that Tom Eastman, Ryan Inniss (who subsequently was injured) and Frankie Kent formed an excellent back three.
Up front we had problems. Denny Johnstone was allowed to return to Scotland in the early weeks of the season. A lot was expected of Kurtis Guthrie, but his injury problems dragged on. He eventually returned in January, but apart from one 25 yard strike he was sulky and ineffective, eventually leaving the club at the end of March.
Sammie Szmodics hit a purple patch, leading up to Christmas but then failed to score in 2018. This put a lot of pressure on Mikael Mandron, who is an excellent footballer but not an out and out striker.
We also missed wide man Brennan Dickenson, he was excellent in 2016/17 and weighed in with a number of goals. However, he suffered an ACL injury just before the end of that season and although he came back in February a series of niggling injuries meant he was unable to re-capture the form we know he is capable of.
Sammie Szmodics and Mikael Mandron were your two top goalscorers last year with 12 and 10 respectively, do you expect a similar return next season?
For this season we have brought in two proven strikers at this level in Frank Nouble and Luke Norris. With Mikael Mandron opting to stay at the club and Sammie Szmodics here as well we expect to score many more goals, especially if we can get Dickenson back on track.
Teams who tend to do well in League Two like MK Dons and Northampton Town are back in the fourth tier after relegation from League One. Do you expect the season to be tougher than when the likes of Coventry City and Luton Town were in it? How do you rate the standard of League Two?
I do not necessarily expect it to be tougher, Notts County and MK Dons are probably the promotion favourites, but we have lost big clubs like Portsmouth, Plymouth, Luton, Doncaster and Coventry over the last 2 seasons. Wycombe and Accrington won promotion on small budgets. I have confidence in John McGreal, this is his third season at the club and he is learning. I don't believe clubs who regularly change managers usually improve. I am sure with Neil Harris you are testament to that.
What do you think the result of the pre-season game with Millwall will be and what players should we worry about?
As a Championship side I am not sure that you need to worry about any of our players, particularly given it is a pre-season friendly. I am eagerly waiting to see what our new strikers can do.
What is your score prediction?
Given it is a pre season friendly and you usually get about 10 substitutions per side in the second half, I will go for a 1-1 draw.
PREDICTION: COLCHESTER UNITED 0-2 MILLWALL
With the start of the season getting closer, Neil Harris will want another strong dominant performance against the League Two side. As usual, fitness and minutes in the bag will be the ultimate priority and a defeat won’t be the end of the world, Chopper would love to have three clean sheets in three pre-season games. The Lions have been in good form so far this summer and I can see that continuing here.