It’s the long trip up to Yorkshire this weekend for Neil Harris’ Milllwall as the Lions visit the John Smith’s Stadium to face Huddersfield Town.
With both teams struggling for form in the bottom half of the table, this won’t be one for the purists and the two sides are arguably more interested in not losing the game instead of going for the win. The Terriers have yet to record a victory in this campaign and will want to stop the rot after being humbled in the 4-2 away defeat at West Brom, and Millwall are searching for a confidence building win after losing 2-1 at home to QPR.
The head-to-head sees the home side just edging the league victories with 19 wins to Millwall’s 15 and four draws shared also. The South London side have not beaten Huddersfield since October 2012, and have lost every meeting since, so Neil Harris will be eager that the three points do not remain up north.
Haven't we met before?...
Huddersfield Town 0-0 Millwall, Saturday 15th May 2010 - After suffering play-off heartache in the final the year before, Kenny Jackett knew this would be a big game for the Lions and that this was one that would put Millwall in the driving seat if they got a positive result. A strong Millwall side featuring the likes of David Fords, Scott Barron, Liam Trotter and Neil Harris battled hard and secured a vital draw prior to the return leg at The Den.
Alex Pritchard faces a late fitness test for the home side, and Terence Kongolo remains a doubt also.
Frank Fielding still is Millwall’s long-term injury and he is joined in the treatment room with Jiri Skalak. After the recent disappointment against QPR, expect Neil Harris to make some changes with the likes of Tom Bradshaw hoping to start in this clash.
THE ONE TO WATCH -
The forward has had a stop-start beginning to the season and frustratingly as soon as he finds some rhythm, he seems to then be placed on the substitutes bench. After impressing after coming on as a second half sub against QPR, Bradshaw will be eager to put in a performance that will deem him to be undroppable by the Millwall management.
WHO ARE YA?
For this weeks 'Who are ya?' we sit down with Matthew Shaw from the Takes That Chance podcast. This week we ask Matt why he thinks the Terriers haven't had the best start to the season, is the Championship harder than the the last time Huddersfield were in it and which players do Millwall need to look out for.
1. It’s been a very difficult start to the season and find yourself bottom of the trouble after seven games. What has happened in Huddersfield?
To give you a concise description would take way too long but I'll try sum up the best that I can. Essentially through a very talented manager in David Wagner the football club was elevated way out of its comfort zone and when that happens there can often be a sharp bump when things go wrong or that person leaves. The structure of the club behind the scenes was never really one that could support Premier League football and a lot of mistakes were then made in the recruitment of players and staff upon promotion. We lost our Head of Football Ops (Director of Football to many) Stuart Webber to Norwich just before we were promoted and the club failed to adequately replace him until this August (that's almost 2.5 years). In terms of players, we were the lowest payers by some margin in the Premier League so we took punts on youngish project players with pace hoping David Wagner could keep performing miracles. Eventually we hit a run of awful luck. The Chairman who was a very inspirational figure and held together a lot of the operation at the club became severely ill which negatively impacted many people including David Wagner. Our fortunes on the field would also become increasingly unlucky with some incredible decisions starting to go against us before confidence dropped through the floor after many defeats then we lost David Wagner in January. Again big mistakes were made in recruiting the new head coach and his assistants which also caused friction with several senior players staging almost mutiny against the new head coach Jan Siewert. The job became too big and impossible for such a young inexperienced coach and his legacy will sadly be one of poor man management whereby confidence became shot amongst the playing staff. So here we are left with a football club feeling sorry for itself and lacking in self belief.
2. You have scored seven goals in the league so far, which is one more than Millwall, but you also have 17 in the against column. Is the Championship tougher than it was the last time you were in it do you think?
No. Despite our confidence being absolutely shot, I don't think there's a game this season that we've been particularly out of until near the end, which certainly wasn't the case in the Premier League or in several games in 16/17. Personally speaking I think the Championship at the top end is maybe weaker than it has been for years. I don't really see anyone of the strength of Wolves (17-18), Newcastle (16-17) or Brighton (16-17). However on the flip side I don't really see any side on paper which you would class as an easy game either, but I think that's always been part of the charm of The Championship.
3. The mood has changed since the new management has come in. Is there a new sense of excitement with the Cowley brothers in charge?
Very much so. Everything was very turbulent under a very emotional Jan Siewert and the Cowleys have added a sense of command and calm. They've being very authoritative yet understanding and I think they'll turn this situation around eventually.
4. Tell us more about your podcast, what can Huddersfield fans expect from your show?
What a time to start a podcast! We started in August 2018 and we've seen 3 wins in almost 60 games . We try and provide a balanced look at the games and have a number of features which seem to be pretty popular with those that listen. We like to engage with the club, community and supporters as much as possible and we like to invite agendas/opinions/comments from fans and try to open the podcast up to the fanbase rather than it just be 3 or 4 guys passing judgement every week. I also think it's important that we try and use the podcast for good to highlight important causes throughout the community, so we also work with Huddersfield Street Kitchen and Andy's Man Club to promote the important work that they do.
5. Millwall’s start to the year has been a bit hot and cold too, how do you think this game will go?
It's a tough one. I think if Millwall are 'cold' then we could finally get that elusive win. The two sides seem polar opposites in many respects. On one side you have a team with a number of talented yet under performing footballers who lack resilience, confidence and drive. Then on the other a well drilled and direct outfit who can cause enormous problems with balls into the box. The key for us will be stopping the delivery into the area as I've no doubt that Matt Smith (if selected) will cause enormous problems for both Tommy Elphick and Christopher Schindler. The first goal could be key. If we can score first then we may be able to control the game but if Millwall score first we could unravel as we have done numerous times over the last 9 months particularly in the last 25 minutes.
6. Who do Millwall need to look out for?
We might be bottom at the moment but Town do have players that can hurt the opposition on their day. The front 3 of Fraizer Campbell, Karlan Grant and Elias Kachunga should fire goals between them at this level if someone can provide the bullets. Lewis O'Brien and Trevoh Chalobah are growing in stature as well in midfield and the signs are there for some promising combinations.
7. What do you think the score will be?
It's not quite a must win game for us yet, but it's getting close. I'm hopeful that we'll continue with the upturn in performance and sneak a 2-1 win but can see us hanging on for dear life towards the end if so.
PREDICTION: HUDDERSFIELD 0-0 MILLWALL
Regardless of the home side’s lack of a win and fewer goals than Millwall in the ‘scored’ column, this will be a tough, tough test for Millwall and a huge banana skin. The Cowley brothers have now reinserted a new excitement and a real sense they can turn this round, so I can see this game being a no-score draw which I think both teams will bite your hand off for.
Come on you Lions.