Millwall v Brighton, League One, August 28, 2009
Having seen hooligans associated with the Lions disgrace themselves at Upton Park on Wednesday night, all eyes will fall on Millwall’s match with Brighton on Friday with violence at the forefront of everyone’s minds. That sad reality further stains the reputation of Millwall, a club who have done more than most in attempting to rid English football of its violent culture that dogged the sport during the 70s and 80s in particular.
The thugs may have won the battle, but Millwall are definitely winning the war. Particularly on the pitch itself.
Amid all the fallout from the Carling Cup match it is easy to forget that Millwall, a club two divisions below West Ham, were just minutes away from causing a major upset. The loss to the Hammers was the first suffered by Kenny Jackett’s men this season, the Lions having started the new year in fine form with one win and three draws (two away from home) in their opening four fixtures.
Spearheading Millwall is their all-time leading goalscorer, Neil Harris (pictured). The remarkable 32-year-old striker, the first ever player to score over 100 goals for the Lions, has not only managed to overcome testicular cancer during his career, but he has also seen off the competition for places up-top from a host of young whipper-snappers including Lewis Grabban, Gary Alexander, and Marc Laird. Harris has maintained his form this season, already chalking up five goals including a hat-trick against Bournemouth.
At the back Millwall also look to have things under control. The Lions have only conceded once in the league this term, with Irish keeper David Forde marshalling a well-oiled backline populated with experienced defenders. Jack Smith has neatly slotted into the back-four since his move from Swindon, while stalwarts Andrew Frampton and Alan Dunne have maintained consistency in the Lions’ defence. (Millwall are EVS to keep a clean sheet.)
This leaves Brighton, second-bottom of the league, with a hugely daunting task. Having picked up just one measly point from their opening four fixtures, the Seagulls are only spared the ignominy of being rock-bottom due to Southampton being on minus points after going into administration.
With four defeats and one draw in their last five matches, times have become so desperate for Brighton that there have even been suggestions in the tabloid press that Dennis Wise could be set to take over at the Withdean Stadium. Russell Slade’s charges have taken a battering in the opening weeks of the new season, including picking up two reds cards and falling to a crushing 7-1 defeat away at Hudderfield in round three. (Brighton are 7/2 to keep a clean sheet.)
On Friday night Slade’s decisions are arguably that much simpler as Albion are down to the bare bones. The squad virtually picks itself for the clash at The New Den with only 16 senior outfield players available for selection in the match.
On the positives, the Seagulls are Millwall’s recent bogey team having recorded three clean sheet victories on their last four visits to The New Den.
101predicts: Millwall 3 - Brighton 1 (11/1)
Full match odds here.