Millwall face daunting April fixture list – but have remarkable record against top seven this season

MILLWALL manager Gary Rowett is backing his team to rise to the challenge when they face four of the current top seven Championship sides in April.

After games against Rotherham and Stoke, the Lions play Swansea, Brentford, Bournemouth and Watford before going into the final two matches of their season in May.

On paper it looks like one of the toughest months of the season, but Rowett’s side have played t10 games against the top seven and lost just twice.

They held leaders Norwich to two goalless draws and only lost to Swansea and Barnsley, both away from home.

Millwall could still reach the 68 points they accumulated last season. That’s a big ask, though, as they would have to claim 16 points from their remaining eight games.

Of those games, only Bristol City have little left to play for, but this Millwall side have shown that they are often better against teams who are still chasing something tangible in the league.

Their last two defeats came against QPR and Blackburn, both safe in mid-table.

Millwall passed the 50-point mark with their win over Middlesbrough at The Den last Saturday week.

“When you’re a club like us it’s always good to get those points in the bag early, it’s always good to be in this position in the league with a real opportunity to see if we can kick on,” Rowett said.

“The main thing is we always knew that on paper April looked a really challenging month. But, we’ve tended to raise our game.

“We’ve drawn against Bournemouth, against Watford, we’ve drawn against Norwich twice, drawn against Brentford.

“So we’re certainly not fearful of any of these types of games.

“But of course we know they’ll be tough and we’ll be playing against teams that will be desperately needing the points to satisfy their own ambitions.

“We’ll give it our best shot and look forward to the month.”

Shaun Hutchinson has led the league’s fourth-best defence this season

Only the top three teams – Norwich (27), Watford (26) and Swansea (29) – have conceded fewer goals than Millwall (36) in the Championship this season.

Rowett added: “We’ve spoken about it a lot last season and this year that you have to have that solidity. If you look at the three teams that have got a better defensive record than us they’re the top three teams.

“That tells you a lot about the balance required to be a good team.

“The difference is all of those teams have scored maybe 10 or more more goals, which is a big thing.”

Key to Millwall’s form in 2021 has been the new strike partnership of Jed Wallace and Mason Bennett who have scored seven league goals between them in 2021.

It has meant the Lions have played without a natural target man, but Rowett insisted that hasn’t been a problem.

“I think we’re the team that needs to adjust tactically against different teams just to find an answer,” Rowett said.

“I don’t think we’re the kind of team that can go out there and play our own game every match and expect to win and get results.

Mason Bennett has hit goal-scoring form

“You’re always adjusting little bits. We had a spell with a bit more physicality in those forward areas, though you can argue that Mason has been as physical as any of the strikers we’ve played up there, won just as many aerial duels.

“We’re always looking at different ways to try to create opportunities. With the likes of Jed up there you can work on different ways to try to build. Drop into areas that defenders might not want to go and defend against him in because he’s obviously got that ability to do that and then make the run forward for his chance against Boro.

“We’ve not had the chance to work on loads of things anyway, I don’t think any team has. We’re always adjusting the patterns we try to play to to create chances.”

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly