It’s the second game of the festive period of fixtures, and Neil Harris’ side go into this home game against his former side in the unusual position of being on the back of a recent league victory. After defeating Reading on Boxing Day and leaping out of the relegation zone, the Millwall manager will be desperate to build on the momentum and leave 2018 with some breathing space between the home side and the bottom of the table.
Nottingham Forest were 3-1 up against Norwich City on Boxing Day and looked to record an impressive away victory at Carrow Road, but that was before the Canaries hit with two late, late goals to salvage a draw and produce a six-goal thriller.
With Millwall’s 22 league wins to Forest’s 19, the overall league head-to-heads between the two sides ever so slightly leans in the home team’s favour and Forest have not beaten the South London side at The Den in a Championship game since April 2013. This is a must win game for both sides for completely different reasons, so expect an explosive game to see the year out.
Haven't we met before?...
Millwall 2-2 Nottingham Forest, 3rd December 2013 – Goals for Millwall from Steve Morison and Martyn Woolford as well as goals from Andy Reid and Nathaniel Chalobah for the visitors ensured that both sides would leave Bermondsey with a point. It was Morison who struck first in the eighth minute, before Reid equalised before half-time. A Woolford flick-on just before the hour mark put Steve Lomas’ side back in the driving seat, but a strike from on-loan Chelsea midfielder, Chalobah only ten minutes later brought the Lions back down to Earth. The result saw the South London side rise to 20th place on 18 points and saw Forest stay in 7th place, just outside the play-offs on goal differences.
Jiri Skalak still remains a doubt for the Lions as he tries to shake off a virus that kept him out of recent contention, although his late appearance from the substitute bench against Reading suggests he may feature again late on. Shaun Williams and Tom Bradshaw remain as Millwall’s only long term absentees.
The only real injury concern for Nottingham Forest is Tobias Figueiredo, who missed the game with Norwich at Carrow Road with a dead leg.
THE ONE TO WATCH -
The Den will need no introduction to our former striker, a man who struggled for form, quality and goals at his time in South Bermondsey, but has flourished at all the clubs he has been at since. Grabban may have found it tough when he has had spells in the Premier League with the likes of AFC Bournemouth, but he regularly finds the back of the net in the English second tier and has 15 goals in 25 games already. Even more impressively, his goal scoring tally is the same as the amount Lee Gregory, Steve Morison, Aiden O’Brien and Tom Elliott has accumulated in the 2018/19 season combined, so if Grabban is on his day and on form, he will be a real threat to Millwall’s shaky back line.
WHO ARE YA?
For this week’s ‘Who are ya?’, we sit back down with our friends across the pond, the Nottingham Forest USA. This week we ask the guys why do the wheels seem to have fallen off in recent weeks, what they can expect from this week’s fixture and what players Millwall and our fans need to look out for.
1. Although sitting comfortably in 10th and only three points off the top six, your recent run hasn’t been great and you are winless in your last four. What has happened?!
The Preston game we had over 60% possession and really controlled the game but struggled the final third. The game against Derby was a typical game between us - even, with 33 fouls and 6 cards. The game against QPR was even more frustrating - we had nearly 70% of the possession, but seemed like one of those days that we wouldn't have scored if we played for 500 minutes. And, of course the Norwich City game, where going in we would have all been happy with a point - but not by being up 3-0 and losing the lead with 3 goals in final 20 minutes. It felt like a loss in the end, and was hard to take.
2. Games between Millwall and Forest are always exciting and energetic fixtures, how do the Forest fans view their South London opponents?
I have heard this week people say it doesn't matter where Millwall are in the table, playing at The Den is as tough as an atmosphere there is. The team has tied or beat teams like Derby, Leeds, and Aston Villa, and pushed Norwich City to the 97th minute (sounds familiar).
3. Is promotion still the target, or because you are now in mid table has the expectation been reassessed?
Our owner wants promotion - he's an ambitious man. I think our supporters realistically want to make the playoffs. Our expectations seem to ebb and flow based on how we are doing. A few weeks ago, everyone was talking playoff and fighting for automatic promotion. Now, after not winning in 4 games, I think we need to realize its solid progress if we finished 9th or higher.
4. The other league meeting between the two was a 2-2 draw at the City Ground after Forest three away a two goal lead. Will the Tricky Trees be keen to avenge that result?
We have dropped 15 points this year from winning positions, its no wonder we NEVER feel comfortable until the whistle blows. The Norwich game will make us all hyper sensitive to it now. I think we will come out and play solid, and avenge that result in a tough fought game.
5. Which player(s) do Millwall need to look out for?
Grabban has 14 goals, but none the last few games - but he is always dangerous around goal. Lolley has 6 goals and 7 assists, Carvahlo has 6 assists, and Cash has 5 goals. But I'd say pay attention to our defensive midfield pairing, they are the engine to everything we do (will be 2 of these 3 - Colback, Yacob, Guedioura).
6. What do you think the score will be?
I think the score will be 2-1, Forest (Cash, Grabban; Gregory).
PREDICTION: MILLWALL 1-1 NOTTINGHAM FOREST
This will be another stern test for Millwall and although Nottingham Forest will be eager to secure the three points and dispel any recent skeletons that have gathered in Aitor Karanka’s wardrobe, I can see this being another winless game for the visitors. The Lions’ most recent victory at The Den did little to instil any confidence in the home faithful, and at present it’s difficult to see where that spark is that will lead to a comprehensive and convincing victory, so a home draw is my prediction for this one.
Come on you Lions.