It’s an away trip for Neil Harris’ Millwall as the Lions make the long journey up north to Greater Manchester to face second from bottom Bolton Wanderers.
Unless you have been leaving under a rock with poor phone signal in recent weeks, you will have seen all the press statements and articles coming from the University of Bolton Stadium with regards to off the field issues that are currently facing the Trotters. Along with staff supposedly not being paid and the training ground being closed, Wanderers find themselves in 23rd place with only Ipswich Town below them and seven points from safety. Millwall also find themselves near the bottom of the table and only one point safe of the drop zone so will be looking to take advantage of their opponent’s instability.
The league head-to-heads between the two are evenly split at sixteen wins each and seven draws. Aside from Millwall’s 2-0 away win last season, the Lions have not beaten Bolton in their last ten meetings, so Neil Harris will be keen to correct this poor record and get the three points.
Haven't we met before?...
Bolton Wanderers 1-1 Millwall, Saturday 12th January 2013 – The honours were shared in this fixture as a spot kick from Andy Keogh in the 9th minute was followed by a Keith Andrews' penalty in the 34th minute of the first half. The result saw Millwall stay just two points outside the Championship top six, and it was an impressive display from David Forde to keep out Marcos Alonso and Dany N'Guessan's goal line clearance from a Kevin Davies header that saw Kenny Jackett's side claim a point.
Josh Magennis should return back for this fixture for the home side, despite being taken off injured against Swansea City.
Tom Bradshaw and Conor McLaughlin remain absentees for the away team, as is defender Murray Wallace who has recently damaged knee and ankle ligaments away against Hull City. Ben Amos is also out of contention due to the terms of his loan agreement.
THE ONE TO WATCH -
Ben Thompson has come back to Millwall like a different man since his recent loan spell at Portsmouth and has been the player that has been a bright spark in the Lions’ recent poor run of form. Thompson was always a player who gave 100% for his boyhood club, but the level of maturity and composure he has developed during his time on the South Coast is clear for everyone to see and he has become a key figure in Millwall’s midfield since his return in January. A quality player when on the ball, one that always tracks back and chases when he wants to regain possession and already on the score sheet since he came back to South Bermondsey, Thompson will be a crucial component in the side that will be looking for the victory at the home of the Trotters.
WHO ARE YA?
For this week’s ‘Who Are Ya?’, we sit back down with Shane Stopforth from the Bolton Wanderers Supporters' Trust. This week we ask Shane how is the mood with the fan base at presents, do Bolton have a chance of retaining their Championship status and what he thinks the score will be.
1. Training grounds closed, staff not being told to come in to work, police bills mounting and games potentially being cancelled due to a lack of safety measures in place. What is going on?
Yes we have been run very poorly over the last 4/5 years. We have a chairman who acquired the club very cheaply, he has not invested any money, the players are signed by the Chairman's son and they clearly do not fit into the managers tactics.
We get by signing free agents, loans and out of contract players whilst selling off any decent assets. I could go on all day. Its a mess from top to bottom.
2. Although there are rivalries in football, nobody wants to see any club go out of business or others fans suffer due to boardroom politics. How are the Bolton fans feeling at the moment?
Low. Worst its ever been. Complete embarrassment.
3. The Trotters are currently seven points from safety in 23rd place, do you think there’s an outside chance you may stay up?
No chance we will stay up. It was a miracle last year but we are weaker than we were last year.
4. The game with Millwall is the classic six pointer, do you think the game will be a similar game to the one at The Den earlier in the season?
It was a tight game last time round and we were probably happy with a point given you had all the possession. We are good at sitting back, letting other teams dominate and hoping we get a lucky break.
5. Who do Millwall need to look out for?
I would normally say Ameobi as he is head and shoulders above everyone in terms of ability but even he is in and out of the team. So look out for our new youngster Luca Connell who we are excited about.
6. What do you think the score will be?
My heart says Bolton but my head is saying 1-0 or 2-0 Millwall. I just cannot see us scoring whilst the manager keeps picking Clayton Donaldson.
PREDICTION: BOLTON WANDERERS 0-2 MILLWALL
Regardless to how Millwall have been in recent games, Bolton Wanderers are in a horrific way on and off the pitch so there will only be one winner in this game. Phil Parkinson is trying his best to keep it together and restore some pride in the home team, but there are too many issues facing Wanderers in the long term so I can see a convincing win and clean sheet for Neil Harris’ side.
Come on you Lions.