After another glut of goals at the Hawthorns on Tuesday evening, Baggies fans will be hoping for another high scoring encounter on Saturday as Neil Harris’s Millwall side are the visitors looking for only their second league win of the season. The hosts, meanwhile, will be looking to make it six home wins on the bounce in all competitions.
Albion moved up temporarily into third place following their defeat of Bristol City on Tuesday evening, but there remain some loud voices of discontent in some quarters which I have addressed in my article explaining why I think we should all be just enjoying the ride.
One of the most significant decisions that Big Dave made on Tuesday evening was to replace Chris Brunt with Gareth Barry in the middle of the park. Many felt that Brunt was untouchable in Moore’s eyes given his less than impressive displays so far this season, but whether it was to give him a rest or a genuine feeling that Barry might do better job, the record Premier League appearance make had a good game against the Robins and Big Dave has another decision to make on Saturday. Sam Field also came off the bench on Tuesday and, in my eyes at least, remains another option for that midfield two.
Sam Johnstone kept the game at 0-0 early on with some excellent saves before the forward line sparked into life and grabbed three quick goals to, ostensibly at least, put the game to bed, although I wasn’t confident of the three points until the final whistle went. Harvey Barnes was excellent once again and it was also good to see Jay Rodriguez back on form after a below par display at St Andrew’s. After twenty goals from the first eight league games, there is no doubt that Albion’s attacking line is a potent force.
That was supplemented in recent days by the signing of free agent, Wes Hoolahan, who made his debut as a substitute on Tuesday. Although 37, the Irish international could represent good business for the Baggies as a back up to Barnes or an alternative option late in games when the team need something different.
Last season, Millwall were surprise challengers for a play off place ultimately finishing 8th in their first season back in the second tier. Manager, Neil Harris, is something of a club legend having scored more than 150 goalsfor the south London club in more than 400 appearances in two spells . He became well known early in his career when he successfully beat testicular cancer having been diagnosed at the age of 23. He took over as manager from Ian Holloway in March 2015, initially on a caretaker basis. He was unable to prevent the Lions from being relegated that season, but managed to get them back into the Championship at the second attempt beating Bradford City in the play off final having lost at the same stage to Barnsley in his first full season.
Last season, a run of nine wins from eleven games from mid-February elevated Millwall into the top six, but they missed out after winning just one of their last four. It has proved to be a struggle so far this season with Harris’s team picking up just one league victory, at home to Derby County last month, although they have picked up home draws against the current top two. On the road, however, they have just one point to their name having drawn their opening fixture on the road at Blackburn.
Saturday will be just the 38th meeting between Albion and Millwall with the Lions holding the balance with 15 wins to Albion’s 13. The clubs last met back in April 2004 at the New Den when current manager, Neil Harris, came off the bench for the Lions in what was a tempestuous affair that saw both Jason Koumas and Thomas Gaardsoe dismissed for the visitors, although they held on for a 1-1 draw. Danny Dichio scored for the hosts having made the move from the Hawthorns the previous January. Dichio came of the bench for Albion in the last meeting at the Hawthorns in September 2003, a game won by Albion 2-1 thanks to goals from Jason Koumas and Scott Dobie.
The Baggies’ biggest win over Millwall was on Boxing Day 1929 when Joe Carter and Tommy Glidden both grabbed a brace to add to goals from Stan Wood and Ginger Richardson in a 6-1 win, while the Lions’ biggest win at the Hawthorns was also on Boxy Day some 58 years later. Millwall legend, Teddy Sherringham scored a hat trick as the visitors ran out 4-1 winners in a Division Two fixture 1987 with Tony Morley grabbing Albion’s only goal from the penalty spot.
One of the more memorable meetings between the sides was a League Cup tie in 1983. Millwall, then of Division Three, shocked the Baggies at Cold Blow Lane in the first leg taking a 2-0 lead inside the first five minutes and eventually running our 3-0 winners. Back at the Hawthorns, however, Cyrille Regis and Garry Thompson found their scoring boots with a brace apiece with Gary Owen adding another from the penalty spot for a 5-1 win on the night, 5-4 on aggregate.
Another home win for the Baggies.
All competitions; most recent game on the right
12 Apr 2004 – League Division 1
Millwall 1 (Dichio)
West Brom 1 (Johnson)
Last meeting at the Hawthorns
30 Sep 2003 – League Division 1
West Brom 2 (Koumas, Dobie)
Millwall 1 (Nethercott)
Albion’s Record against Millwall
Pictures courtesy of Laurie Rampling