It's the business end of the FA Cup now and Millwall welcome Chris Hughton's Brighton and Hove Albion to The Den for this quarter final clash. A place in the last four and a trip to Wembley awaits the victor and both will be eager to progress to the semi-final of the greatest cup competition in the world.
Millwall's run to this stage has seen the Lions continue their impressive winning streak at home by defeating Hull City and Premier League Everton in the third and fourth round respectively, before travelling to Kingston-upon-Thames in the fifth round and defeating AFC Wimbledon. The Seagulls' run has seen them play one game more than the Lions due to their game with West Bromwich Albion going to a replay, but convincing victories against AFC Bournemouth and Frank Lampard's Derby County saw the south-coast side comfortably progress to the last eight.
Despite regularly being in the same division over the years, the two sides have only met twice in the FA Cup - and this was a single tie that went to a replay! The Lions were the victors in this clash and Neil Harris will be looking to repeat this feat on Sunday afternoon.
Haven't we met before?...
Millwall 3-1 Brighton and Hove Albion, Monday 19th November 1956 – Both sides had met earlier in the Division Three South season in a game which saw the Lions run out 4-3 winners, and this first round replay game saw the Lions get the better of their opposition after a 1-1 draw on the south-coast just a couple of days before. A John Shepherd strike was followed by a Stan Anslow double and although Jim Langley managed to pull a goal back for the Seagulls, the home side were just too strong and progressed to the next round.
Tom Bradshaw and defender Murray Wallace are Millwall's only absentees through injury. Ben Marshall, Fred Onyedinma and Ben Thompson miss this clash due to being cup tied after playing for Norwich City, Wycombe Wanderers and Portsmouth in earlier rounds, but Alex Pearce is in contention as he has not featured in the competition for his parent club, Derby County.
Pascal Groß is out for this game with injury, whilst Florin Andone is a doubt for this clash also. Yves Bissouma misses this game through suspension. Hughton is expected to rotate his side so expect a handful of changes, but Brighton will still put out a strong enough side full of first team regulars.
THE ONE TO WATCH -
Don't let age fool you! Murray may be in his mid-thirties now, but where other players his age would be winding down in the lower leagues or retiring, the experienced forward is continuing to impress in the English top tier. With thirteen goals in thirty-one games so far for Brighton this season, Murray will only need half a chance to find the back of the net and the goal he scored in the 2-1 victory against Crystal Palace in the Premier League shows just how dangerous he can be on his day.
WHO ARE YA?
For this week’s ‘Who Are Ya?’, we sit down with The Albion Roar from the Brighton and Hove Albion fans' show. This week we ask the team how do they think there season is going so far, which player or players do Millwall need to be wary of and do they think there is an outside chance that the Seagulls could make the cup final...
1. It’s not been a bad season so far for the Seagulls, you may be just outside of the relegation zone in the Premier League but there is a slight cushion and you are only a couple of wins from guaranteed safety. How do you think the season has gone?
Its been OK. We are still very much looking down rather than up. At one point we were 12 points above the drop zone & were on course for a best ever top flight finish but a run of games were we let leads go & came up against some goalkeepers having the game of their lives saw us slip closer & closer to the trap door. The mass release of pressure after the Huddersfield win was massive & then to do the double over Palace has put a spring back in our step. We still have Southampton, Cardiff, Bournemouth & Newcastle to come at home where we are strong so we should be alright but we are not taking it for granted
2. You have made it through to the quarter-final of the FA Cup too and are only one game from Wembley. How have the fans seen the cup run this year and do you think there’s a chance you’ll win it?
It’s the 2nd successive time in the quarter finals for us after previously not getting that far since 1986. The FA Cup is something that features massively in our history after the 1983 final where Gordon Smith should have won it for us (the less said about the replay the better). That remains the only time that we have made the final. It really annoys me that clubs devalue this competition, your job as a football club is to be as successful as possible & to win things. Fans of Everton & West Ham are not going to be bothered if they finish 10th or 11th but winning the FA Cup - well that’s something else!! We would absolutely love to get to the final. Only one manager in our history has taken us to a semi final & we would love Chris Hughton to be the 2nd.
I suspect that your lot might have a thing or two to say about that though……..
3. You’ve been in great form recently and won the last two games in the league, do you think next season you may be able to develop and progress up the table, or will next year be another campaign of consolidation?
That’s the plan. The management at the club are very pragmatic and know that to succeed in the premier league, you can't just throw a ton of money at it as Fulham are finding out. The way to go is year-on-year improvement with success in the cup competitions.
We know realistically that to repeat what Leicester achieved is highly unlikely but you can dream…
4. It’s a long time since the wilderness period of playing at the Withdean. We can see how the club has expanded since the building of the Amex, but just how much has the club developed since the League One days of the mid-2000’s?
Withdean was only meant to be a life raft for short period but we ended up staying there for 12 years!! It was the only place where you could get sunstroke & pleurisy as the same time, but we were massively successful there. Let's not forget that as recently as 1997 we very nearly didn’t have a club at all and are a beacon for other clubs who have found themselves saddled with bad owners and in dire straits. We will never forget the support offered to us by other clubs when we needed it and offer our help & solidarity now. Getting the Amex massively changed the landscape and meant that we could compete on a more even basis. Seeing the likes of Vicente & Wayne Bridge play for us was a joy. That said two of the players that achieved promotion from League One under Gus Poyet are still with us in the shape of Glenn Murray & Lewis Dunk.
5. We haven’t met each other since the 2014/15 season and have had polar opposite runs of form since then. How do the Brighton fans view this fixture and Millwall as a club?
It’s a game we have always enjoyed. Its easy for us to get to & there is no real rivalry. Back when we were homeless, The New Den was very close to becoming our home ground which would have been a lot easier for us than the eventual destination of Gillingham! The game in December 14 at the Amex where you won 1-0 signalled the end of the Sami Hypia ‘experiment’ and saw Chris Hughton take the helm which has obviously been pivotal in our recent success.
Of course we enjoyed the play off games with you in 1991……..
Millwall are a club which gets a bad press, but we see all the great things that you do in the community & can't believe that the local council were trying to undo all that good work.
6. Who dislikes Palace more?
We do, but I'm sure you were grateful that we beat them last week...
7. Which player(s) do Millwall need to look out for?
Hughton has taken the opportunity to rotate players in the cup this year, but that has not meant wholesale changes & every player has started games in the league this season. I would say that we are starting to see the best of Alireza Jahanbaksh & Jose Izqueirdo who has struggled with injury since coming back from the World Cup will be itching get on the score sheet. If he has recovered from his thigh strain I suspect Florin and one will get the nod to start ahead of Murray & he will be the danger man.
8. Finally, what do you think the score will be?
It’s the FA Cup, so the form book goes out the window. We are expecting a partisan crowd getting right behind the team.
We are disappointed not to have been given the whole stand as we have been previously & Norwich were only a couple of weeks ago but we do make a lot of noise.
As for the game, I think we will edge it 2-1.
PREDICTION: MILLWALL 1-0 BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION
Regardless of league form, Millwall being the underdog at The Den are a completely different beast and it is no coincidence that so many Premier Leagues have been knocked out of the cup with their tails between their legs after visiting The Den. The midweek victory over Birmingham City at St. Andrew's has restored some faith in Neil Harris' side and with a packed stadium guaranteed, this could be a long day for the visitors. A 1-0 home win and a trip to Wembley beckons...
Come on you Lions.