So the Spanners. Not our favorite team over the years but as young Dave very well points out over at Drinking, things have changed a lot over the years. Manager at the Spanners is now 47 year old Kenny Jackett. Born in Watford he played for them a massive 335 times before retiring injured at the age of 28. He's been manager at Millwall since November 2007.
Darren Ward has been back at the Den recently on-loan from Wolves. He had 4 years at the den back in 2001/04, which included their other cup final (lost), and he played sixteen times for us last season but was an un-used sub against Walsall last weekend with centre-back and captain Paul Robinson now back from injury.
Ex-Orient striker Gary Alexander hasn't played since coming on and scoring the winner against Leeds in October and is currently wearing a protective boot while sadly both top striker Neil Harris and winger Chris Hackett are also out injured.
With Hackett and Harris missing the key could be overcoming the battling spanners midfield. They've both got high numbers but number 24 Laird and 26 Abdou need careful watching. Scotsman Marc Laird was Port Vale's new manager Lee Sinnott's first signing two years ago from Manchester City but it wasn't long before he moved to the den and number 26 is 25 year old Frenchman Jimmy Abdou ex of Plymouth ( he played against us in our 2-1 win there in April 2008 ) and both are known as midfield tigers that never stop working.
All-time top Millwall scorer with 115ish is thirty-two year old Neil Harris and he tops the lists this year with 11 but sadly we'll have to pass up the chance of seeing him as he's out injured and hasn't played since the 2-2 draw at Brentford a month ago so ex Stevenage Borough Steve Morison has been filling in and has surprised everyone with 4 goals in the last 4 games. Everytime he scores, apparently, the Spanners have won but seems he doesn't like travelling as every single one of his total of 6 goals have been scored at the Den.
Whats Their Secret?
Their favorite score in 1-1 and they have the 4th best defence in League One ( 21 goals) with only Leeds, the Addicks and Colchester conceding less. And they are one of only 6 teams that have not lost a game once they have gone in front ( along with Leeds, the Addicks, Oldham, Exeter and Swindon). And as you can see after their victories over Leeds, Colchester, Huddersfield and MK - all at home of course - they also have an excellent record against the top half of the table with only 2 defeats in 9 games.
What Are They Saying?
Jackett was full of praise for striker Morison after his two goals against Walsall last weekend, "He needed an adjustment period coming from non-league into League One but he's worked hard for his two goals. He has to use his physical attributes and when he does he's more than a handful for defenders. The two centre-halfs need to know they've been in a game and Morison did that today with his pace and power."
Meanwhile over at Brentford Leeds' Grayson has been complaining about the Bees pitch last weekend but Andy Scott was not exactly sympathetic "It was a physical game and I think that Simon is clutching at straws if he's trying to blame the pitch and refereeing decisions."
Our last confrontation was during their relegation season 1995/96 when we did the double over them with two 2-0 wins, our first over them since 1935/36.
Its just another game, or so Parky says, but I can't see him changing a winning team even for a derby. There's no news of our treatment room and before a critical game you won't expect it so its an unchanged eleven. Richardson has now missed 7 out of the last 9 and make abortive comebacks in the other two while Kelly Youga has now missed the last three.
And there's still 4 players on 4 yellows ( Dailly, Youga, Sam, and the shirt-removing McLeod) but they all seem to be making an effort to avoid the critical 5th. Christian Dailly, with Bailey the only player to have topped 2000 minutes action this season, after receiving 4 in 7 games hasn't had a single one in last 3.
But is Shelvey champing at the bit? Its only a single start in the last 7 for JonJo and no sub appearances either while Akpo has now racked up over two hours in an Addicks shirt but has still to start a game. And while Llera is keenly watching Christian in the hope of that 5th card, Sam Sodje is not far behind either with three yellows to his name.
Elliot; Omozusi, Dailly, Sodje, Basey; Sam, Semedo, Bailey, Wagstaff; Mooney, Burton
They have a lot of injuries but have history on their side and their away form won't count for a lot in a steamy local derby. Predictions in derbies are always a lottery so maybe I'll cope out and consult the wisest. Of the 16 top predictors in cafcpicks (all those with double figures correct) seven forecast a win, eight a draw and only 1 ( step forward Bob Pooley) a defeat. But the top two ( Westie and Frankie ) saw a draw and the history says 35% drawn so thats my verdict, 2-2.