Millwall were so close yet so far from an immediate return to the Championship. After going into the play-offs with good momentum, Neil Harris’ side defeated The Bantams on aggregate over the two legs before going down to Barnsley at Wembley Stadium.
Neil Harris went into his first full season in professional management with the task of re-building a squad at a club where he is very much revered. Steve Morison returned to the club to partner Lee Gregory up front with Jordan Archer arriving from Tottenham Hotspur and Joe Martin coming in from Gillingham. All the mentioned players were key in the long term, but it took Millwall a while to get going last season.
The Lions won on the opening day of the season at Shrewsbury Town, but they failed to win any of their next four matches. Following a 5-3 defeat at Peterborough United in early October, Millwall went six without defeat before losing five of seven matches following a 4-1 home victory against Colchester United.
During the second half of the season, Millwall picked up 47 points from 23 matches, including four successive victories going into the play-off semi-final double header against Bradford City. The Londoners won 3-1 at Valley Parade in the first leg and held out for a draw in the second to earn a final bout with Barnsley. Paul Heckingbottom’s Barnsley came out on top to earn a return to The Championship after a two year absence.
At The Helm: Neil Harris
The Head Coach at Millwall, Neil has got off to a good start in management at a club where there is certainly a mutual affection. Harris managed the club’s Under 21s side for two years before being put in temporary charge following the dismissal of Ian Holloway as manager. Despite being unable to keep the club in the Championship, he remained with the club and was 90 minutes away from guiding his team to an immediate return to the second tier.
As a player, Harris has his name printed clearly in the history books as he’s currently the club’s all- time leading goal scorer with 138 in all competitions; he broke the previous record held by Teddy Sheringham in January 2009. Between his two spells as a player with the club, which totalled approximately 10 years, he spent time with Nottingham Forest. He began his playing career with Cambridge City in 1997 and finished it with Southend United in 2013.
The 38 year old is a relative rookie in the managerial game but he is making an good impact already and will be looking to guide Millwall to promotion in his second full season in the hot seat.
Lee Gregory was undoubtedly the star man on the goal scoring front last season and his 27 goals in all competitions played a huge part in Millwall’s run to the play-off final last season. A man who has scored goals throughout his career, the Lions may have to fend off potential suitors from higher up the footballing ladder. Neil Harris will surely want to retain the services of a player who managed to score four goals in a single game last season (vs Plymouth Argyle, Football League Trophy).
Partnering him to form arguably the most formidable strike partnership in League One last season, was Steve Morison. A player once worth £2.8 Million, he chipped in with 19 goals in all competitions last season and the 32 year old will be hoping for another successful season under former teammate Neil Harris this coming campaign.
Head to Head:
The most recent encounter between the two sides was the last game Bradford City played and unfortunately it wasn’t a night to remember.
Phil Parkinson’s Bantams headed to The Den needing to turn around a two goal deficit following a 3-1 defeat to Millwall in the League One play-off semi-final 1st leg. Matters were made worse when Lee Gregory scored early on, and although Jamie Proctor scored before the break, the hosts held out in the second half for victory.
In the two league meeting between the two sides last season, it was City that gained the upper hand. The fixture at The Den in October finished goalless but a late goal from Steven Davies in the reverse fixture in March ensured a 1-0 victory at Valley Parade.
Overall in 43 meetings between the two sides, it is Millwall who have the better of the two records with 17 victories. There has been 16 draws between the two and just 10 Bradford wins.
Their own patch:
The atmosphere inside The Den on our last visit for the play-off semi-final 2nd Leg, was electric. The noise generated by the flocks of Millwall fans can create a superb atmosphere and the ground over the years has gathered a reputation for doing so.
Granted, the atmosphere wasn’t quite the same for last October’s goalless draw, but it is a ground where the home fans really play their part. A 20,000+ all seated stadium, it is a good looking ground with four double-tiered stands. The Cold Blow Lane End behind one of the goals is usually quite full with Millwall fans and with away fans housed opposite in the North Stand. Although the stand is double-tiered, fans are usually only allowed access to the upper tier for crowd segregation purposes.
In general, it is a nice stadium which has a modern feel to it, having only being opened in 1993, and is vastly different to the Old Den in terms of physical appearance. The atmosphere can be very lively and it is a unique place to go, different to many others at this level of football.
Postcode: SE16 3LN
Fancy a flutter?
Having come so close to promotion last season, Millwall are joint second favourites to earn promotion with odds of 7/2 and to win the title, they are priced by Sky Bet at 12/1.