The new season may not have started yet, but our boys in blue are back for pre-season and make the trip to Canvey Island to face Concord Rangers of the National League South.
Last season was one to forget for everyone associated with Millwall and although the Lions did secure second tier football for a third consecutive season, the 21st place finish in 2018-19 was seen as one of disappointment and Neil Harris has assured the fans that only those who want to play for Millwall will remain. The Beach Boys, on the other hand, had a relatively successful campaign in 2018-19 and finished in a respectable sixth place. Danny Scopes' side will have one eye on perhaps going one step further this year and challenging for the promotion places and carry on from the early success at the turn of the
Although this is a friendly, both sides will be keen to get their pre-season off to a flyer and give the fans the perfect start to their summer holidays...
Haven't we met before?...
Dartford 0-5 Millwall, 7th July 2018 - Millwall have never faced off against their Essex opposition before, so we look back to last season's pre-season against a team at a similar standard. Many may have had their eyes on the England World Cup game later that afternoon, but this got the weekend off to the perfect start for the Lions fans and a dominant performance from Neil Harris' men saw them run out comfortable winners against the Darts.
Concord will look to rotate and change around their side during the game and all eyes will be on Cameron Harris, son of the current Millwall boss who will be looking at upsetting his Lions legend father,
Millwall are expecting to field two different sides in the two halves and new signings Alex Pearce, Frank Fielding and Matt Smith will feature throughout the fixture.
THE ONE TO WATCH -
Smith is a player who the Lions have been chasing for a number of transfer windows now and after seasons of 'Will he? Won't he?", the forward signed on the dotted line and committed himself to Millwall. The giant forward may have only scored nineteen goals in his past two seasons at QPR, but Smith is known for being a handful in the box, strong in the air and the type of player who is a nightmare to play against. Able to bring other players into the game and change the team's attacking dynamics, Smith will be looking for goals in this game to build up his confidence in what will be an unpredictable campaign in the Football League Championship.
WHO ARE YA?
For this week's 'Who Are Ya?' we sit down with Alan Jessup-Peacock, a Concord Rangers commitee member and programme editor. This week we ask the wrestling podcaster and whisky drinker what he thought of last seasons sixth place finish for Concord Rangers, can they push on for promotion and what he thinks the score will be.
1. A sixth place finish last year in a very competitive National League South! How do you think the season went for the Beach Boys?
On the pitch it was a very successful one for sure, our highest ever finish in the National League South and two impressive unbeaten runs of 7 & 10 games, and victories over some of the bigger clubs in the division (Woking for example) all made it what it was.
2. With a strong top six finish and some professional opposition in pre-season. Do you think you will see a push for promotion this season perhaps?
After the disappointment of not being able to compete in the playoffs last season, there’s a bit more fight and determination in the club this time round to do so and make an impact when we do. The team will undoubtedly take time to settle under the new management team, but optimism is pretty high I’d say with the signings made over the summer, so I’d not be surprised to see us in those playoff places next April.
3. You have had some success in the early 2000’s and have experienced a number of promotions and cup wins. Tell us more about Concord Rangers and how the fans see the club?
Our club is fairly small compared to most in the NLS around us, that period of success in the early to mid 2000s came in a short space of time and we’ve progressed faster than we can grow. The fanbase is small but loyal, and is growing as we continue to establish ourselves at this level, but we’re still seen by many as a small pub team from Canvey Island. Personally I see Concord as a family club, I only started coming to games around 10 years ago, but thanks to the type of people you meet and interact with at the club, it’s easy to get involved and to get swallowed up by it.
4. Millwall didn’t have the best of seasons last year and could be a bit of a scalp even though it is a friendly. How can you see the game going?
Growing up as a West Ham fan (I know.....) it’d be natural for me to say I’d be looking for a Concord win! But seriously I think this will be a massive test for the young players we’ve brought in to Concord Rangers over the summer, I feel that we’ll be competitive, but even in preseason there’s a significant difference between clubs at our two levels, so I would expect a Lions win if you bring a strong side.
5. Which players do the Lions need to look out for?
Given that we’ve got just three players in the side from last season, it would be easy for me to highlight those, but of the new lads Billy Roast is one to watch. I say new, he’s played at the club before but has grown and matured so much more since then. He continues to develop into a strong and determined defender who will be a rock at the back for us this year without a doubt. Of the guys who’ve stayed, Joe Gardner is one to mention. He’s got pace, he’s got ball skills, will get stuck in when needed and doesn’t stop for the whole 90 minutes. He’s an old hand at this, plenty of non league experience under his belt and that will be massive for us this season.
6. What do you think the score will be?
The first game of preseason, I think it’ll be fairly open and as a result we’ll see a few goals. I’d say 3-2 to the away side, but I think the main thing for me is that our players use the game to gel, to continue to progress ready for the season, and don’t pick up any significant injuries.
PREDICTION: CONCORD RANGERS 0-3 MILLWALL
This may be a friendly where there will be lots of changes from each side throughout the game, but the Lions should be too strong for their non-league opposition and I can see a comfortable, yet respectable, Millwall victory..
Come on you Lions.