League One preview: Bolton Wanderers vs. Millwall

MILLWALL will have the chance to avenge the 2-0 defeat to Bolton Wanderers at The Den in October when they travel to The Macron Stadium this weekend.

That game is the only one of their last eight the Lions have failed to win as they progressed to the next rounds in the Checkatrade Trophy and the FA Cup and rose to ninth place in League One.

That’s all a far cry from the mood in early October which had plunged along with their league position after a 2-1 defeat at Walsall, their sixth game without a win, left Neil Harris’ side outside the relegation zone only on goal difference.

Bolton had won five successive league games until their 1-0 defeat at Peterborough last weekend.

Phil Parkinson, who won manager of the month for October, struggled to explain a result that was made worse when goalkeeper Mark Howard picked up a thumb injury that has ruled him out for three months. Ben Alnwick, who was in goal for Peterborough when they defeated Millwall 5-1 in August, could deputise.

Sammy Ameobi, who scored Bolton’s first goal in that 2-0 win a month ago, is a doubt and will be assessed before kick-off.

The news that Millwall striker Steve Morison is set to miss five weeks with a knee injury was softened somewhat by Harry Smith’s impact last week. He followed up two goals on his debut against Luton with another in the 4-0 win over Bristol Rovers, his first two games at senior level in the Football League.

Bolton’s solid defence has been built on the partnership of former Millwall centre-back Mark Beevers and David Wheater. Bolton have the best defence in the division, having conceded just 12 times in 17 games.

Despite Millwall’s struggles earlier in the season only two sides have scored more goals in League One.

Harris hinted he could change his attack this weekend, however, possibly putting more of a focus on pace against Bolton’s physically strong but relatively slow defenders.

That could mean Smith stepping aside with Fred Onyedinma or Aiden O’Brien partnering Lee Gregory up front and David Worrall, whom Harris praised for his performance last weekend, coming into the side.

Shane Ferguson, Jimmy Abdou and Kris Twardek all returned from international duty on Thursday, but just as Millwall’s injury problems had cleared up the curse struck again.

Shaun Hutchinson is a major doubt with a hamstring problem.

Ben Thompson still hasn’t recovered fully from the ear injury he picked up in the FA Cup tie against Southend, but Harris said that is unlikely to keep him out despite taking his midfielder off against Bristol Rovers.

“I was delighted Ben got 70 minutes at the weekend,” Harris said. “We’ve also got the option to put Calum Butcher on, he’s progressing for us nicely. Ben’s had a little bit of a lack of training at the moment because of the damage to his ear, but he’ll always want to play on a Saturday.

Mahlon Romeo will be available as he hasn’t joined up with the Antigua and Barbuda squad for their friendly against Estonia on Monday, and Shaun Cummings got through another outing with the U23s this week.

Millwall haven’t beaten Bolton in six games, since Darius Henderson scored in the last minute to give Kenny Jackett’s side a 2-1 win in the Championship in October 2012.

The Lions haven’t won at Bolton since a League Cup victory more than 43 years ago, on November 6, 1973, a month after their last league victory at the home of the Trotters, which was then Burnden Park.

Bolton are also the only side Millwall have failed to score against in their last 31 games in all competitions.

Millwall, though, have hit the back of the net 12 times in five games since that October defeat.

Millwall record against Bolton Wanderers

Played 42

Won 16 Drawn 8 Lost 18

Form guide:

Millwall: WWWWW

Bolton: WWWWL

Probable Millwall team:

4-4-2: Archer; Romeo, Webster, Craig, Martin; Onyedinma, Thompson, Williams, O’Brien; Gregory, Smith.

Match odds:

Bolton 5/4 Draw 23/10 Millwall 9/4

John Kelly

(@jkelly1882)