MILLWALL traditionally have a little and large combination up front – but it’s little and little who are doing the business in 2021.
That might be slightly harsh on Jed Wallace who is not far off 6ft tall, but he’s hardly a bruiser in the Steve Morison/Matt Smith mould.
Wallace’s current strike partner is Mason Bennett and the pair have developed an excellent understanding, with arguably their best performances as a front duo coming in the 1-0 win over Middlesbrough before the international break.
Bennett is usually the furthest forward but when he drops deep Wallace is on the move to stretch the opponents’ defence. Against Boro, Bennett put Wallace in with a sumptuous first-time ball and only Marcus Bettinelli’s save denied the latter a ninth goal of the season.
For the goal, Wallace drifted to the left to take a pass from Billy Mitchell before beating Jonny Howson and drilling in a low cross that Grant Hall couldn’t help putting in his own net. The Boro defender was undoubtedly spooked by Bennett who was behind him and ready to finish.
Wallace and Bennett have scored seven league goals between them this year, crucial contributions in the absence of target men Smith and Kenneth Zohore and coming at the perfect time to banish relegation worries as the Lions moved past the 50-point mark with their 1-0 win over Boro.
Mitchell is full of admiration for the side’s current front two.
“Neither of them are natural strikers but they’ve been absolutely excellent,” Mitchell said. “They’ve got bundles of pace, probably more than your average Championship player.
“Particularly as a midfielder if you’re under pressure you know you can always swing one around the corner and Jed or Mason are going to get on the end of it.
“They’ve both been linking up well together and scoring some goals, that’s always good for the team. Long may that continue.
“Naturally if you have Jon Dadi [Bodvarsson] or Smudge on the pitch you might look to go a bit more direct because that plays to their strengths.
“Jed and Mason both like to come a little deeper to get the ball to their feet and link the play. What we’ve worked quite hard on is making sure one of them is in there to link the play while the other one goes in behind.
“That’s something they’ve done really well. The first half at QPR was obviously quite exciting. Although we didn’t have a lot of the ball at Derby they were probably two of our best players.
“And against Boro, Mason Bennett put a first-time pass around the corner for Jed and he nearly scored from it. They’ve clearly got a good understanding of what each other want to do.”
Meanwhile, the Lions could be boosted by the return of Connor Mahoney against Rotherham.
Mahoney has featured twice for the under-23s as he aims to make his first senior appearance since November.
Maikel Kieftenbeld and Kenneth Zohore have also been training this week.
Millwall face four of the top seven teams in the league in a tough April on paper. With a 10-point gap to sixth, the Lions’ season is likely to conclude after games against Bristol City and Coventry in May.
Possible Millwall starting XI: 5-3-2: Bialkowski; McNamara, Hutchinson, M Wallace, Cooper, Malone; Evans, Woods, Mitchell; J Wallace, Bennett.
Match odds: Millwall 4/7 Draw 12/5 Rotherham 12/5
Last meeting: Championship (September 19, 2021): Rotherham 0-1 Millwall (J Wallace 50).
Image: Millwall FC