After a disappointing 3-2 away defeat last weekend at Griffin Park, it is back at home for caretaker manager Adam Barrett’s Millwall in this midweek EFL Championship game with Neil Warnock’s Cardiff City.
Millwall go into this game with mixed feelings after their last two league results. Riding the crest of a wave after beating Leeds United in our last home game, the Lions had the feeling that our luck had turned when they were 2-0 up against Brentford, but three late goals from the home side had us crashing back down to Earth. Cardiff similarly have had a hot and cold run as of last and they were unable to follow up the 3-0 home win against QPR, losing to West Brom and drawing with Sheffield Wednesday in recent weeks.
The league head-to-heads are very close, with the away side just edging their opponents with 19 wins to Millwall’s 18 and 23 draws between the two. Aside from the 1-0 win at The Den for Millwall in October 2014, the last few meetings have been draws. But with both sides leaking goals at the moment, this may be a game where we see an outright victor.
Haven't we met before?...
Millwall 3-3 Cardiff City, Saturday 19th March 2011 – A crowd of over 15,000 were treated to a six goal thriller, but events off of the pitch in the stands were the main headlines of this game. A game where neither side really dominated saw the lead swapped between the two teams and goals from Liam Trotter, Kevin Lisbie and Steve Morison for Millwall were cancelled out by strikes from Chris Burke and Peter Whittingham. The game was overshadowed by a Cardiff City fan who fell from the top tier of the North Stand after celebrating their team’s opener, and this seemed to have an effect on both the fans in attendance and those on the pitch, as the game was a very nervy and cagey affair after the incident.
Goalkeeper Frank Fielding continues to be out for the Lions, as does Ryan Leonard is also still recovering after coming off with an injury before the international break.
Lee Tomlin will be looking to start after his return to action against Sheffield Wednesday from the bench, but Sol Bamba will miss this one as he returns to full fitness.
THE ONE TO WATCH -
Ben Thompson has had a new lease of life since playing in a ‘number ten’ role behind Tom Bradshaw in a 4-4-2. The young midfielder has gone from strength to strength since the latter part of last season, has done well to carry it into this campaign and there has been talk from some on social media as to whether he should get an England call-up soon. This could arguably be a slight exaggeration on the form he is in, but there are some that see his promise and Thompson has proven to be a key member of the Millwall side and one who continues to be one of the very first on the team sheet.
WHO ARE YA?
For this weeks 'Who are ya?' we sit down with Nathan Walker, a sports journalist who contributes towards TalkSport, Love Sport Radio and Ninian Opinion. This week we ask Nathan how he thinks the season has started, is Warnock the manager who will get the Bluebirds promoted again, what do Cardiff fans think of the fixture and what the score will be.
1. It was a slow and steady start to the season for Cardiff, but you now currently find yourselves in 12th place and only four points off the play-offs. How do you think the start has been?
The start is okay, at best. There’s been some decent wins but also some very poor losses and we’ve underperformed in pretty much every game but somehow found a way of picking up at least a point. The thing with this side is that no matter how we’re playing, we’re rarely out of the game. The only problem with that is that it’s not very pleasing on the eye and going to games this season feels more like a chore than entertainment.
2. You have scored an impressive 17 goals so far, but also conceded the same amount. Why isn’t it as water tight at the back as previous seasons?
I think a lot of that is down to the absence of Sol Bamba. He has been colossal for Cardiff since he signed in October 2016 and is a huge reason why the club has been successful since his arrival. He was pivotal in our promotion season and arguably our key player in the Premier League. He’s been out since March but is back involved in the U23s so hopefully his pending return should help sure up the defence. As well as missing Sol, our new pairing of Sean Morrison and Aden Flint, although extremely tall, is very slow so we lack the mobility we previously had now that Bruno Manga has gone back to France.
3. Neil Warnock is a man who is very experienced at Championship level, but some question his ability in the Premier League. Do the fans still back him to take you back up to the top flight, or are there question marks over him?
I’d say it’s pretty much a 50/50 split. Warnock has been unbelievable for Cardiff. Taking us from 23rd in the Championship to the Premier League in 18 months is some feat, but his style of football is starting to wear thin in the minds of some fans. Cardiff barely get over 20% of the possession at home against the likes of Luton so you can see why many supporters aren’t so keen on him anymore. He’s stated that this his is last season in management so a lot of people, including me, think the club should have let him go after relegation in order to build for a future. As it stands, we’re playing a one dimensional style of play directed by a man who has no intention of being there next year. I think it would have been wiser to appoint a new, younger manager and given them this season in order to start a rebuild. However, having said that, Warnock is probably our greatest manager and he truly has done wonders for Cardiff on and off the field, where he has repaired most of the damage done by Vincent Tan in the rebranding episode.
4. There has been a lot of media attention on and off the pitch at Cardiff over the past year, what are your expectations this season?
Expectations are pretty much as we are now. We’re far too good to go down, too poor to mount a serious promotion challenge but will always be there or thereabouts. We’ll finish 9th - 12th.
5. Millwall vs. Cardiff have always been feisty affairs. How do the Bluebirds fans see this fixture?
It’s a battle of the ‘unfashionable’ club’s really, isn’t it? Cardiff, Millwall, Leeds etc all have the reputation of being a nasty away day from years gone by and I think all clubs have struggled to shake that tag off. I think whenever a Millwall v Cardiff fixture pops up, people still think about the history of the ‘off field’ battles of these clubs but I think that’s a good thing. In today’s heavily sanitised football world, it’s great to have fixtures like this. That’s what Cardiff fans think of this fixture. A battle between two traditional, ‘rough around the edges’ clubs that are hardly fought affairs.
6. Who do Millwall need to look out for?
Not a lot in fairness apart from our wingers. Whether we start with Junior Hoilett, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, Gavin Whyte or Josh Murphy, we have pace to burn on the flanks and that’s where we can cause problems.
7. What do you think the score will be?
An awful game of football resulting in a very boring, but fortunate 1-0 victory to give Cardiff their first away win of the season.
PREDICTION: MILLWALL 1-1 CARDIFF CITY
The two teams do have a tendency to score in recent weeks, but both also prove they struggle to keep the ball out. With that said, I think there will be goals and a score draw at The Den.
Come on you Lions.