Hutch: Millwall hitting their stride at right time

SHAUN Hutchinson feels Millwall are hitting form at the right time after successive wins during the Christmas period.

The 2-0 Boxing Day victory over Swindon leaves the Lions just three points off the play-off places ahead of Friday night’s clash with Gillingham at The Den.

Hutchinson revealed Millwall knew precisely what to expect from Swindon, and believes their recent performances show they are on the right track.

“Over the moon, it’s been good couple of days for us,” Hutchinson said. “The boys are feeling really pumped up and strong at a good point in the season.

“This time of the year is when we’ve really got to step up and push on and I think we’re starting to do that.

“That Charlton game came at a good time and we put in a good performance. The gaffer said you’re not going to have 15,000 at the (Swindon) game so you’ve got to find it in yourself to motivate yourself, be solid and resolute.

“We were clinical at times, posed a lot of threat with balls into their box and when we had to defend I thought we did that brilliantly as well.

“We knew exactly what we were going to get from them, they were going to play football and pass it out. And I think you saw at times it just played into our hands.

“They forced so many passes in nice areas but we just nicked it off them and then created chances.

“I know people say, ‘Millwall go route one and Swindon play nice football’, but there’s a time and a place to do certain things. The way they played was straight into our hands and I thought we dealt with them really well.”

Steve Morison was involved in Lee Gregory’s double that gave Millwall all three points against the Robins, and Hutchinson feels the side’s potency in attack means a solid defensive foundation will contribute to them winning most games.

“I think that’s why we play 4-4-2, the two up top are a right handful,” Hutchinson said. “If Lee gets a chance you’re almost certain he’s going to hit the target or get a goal. If we supply those two they’ll constantly get goals and when we get one-nil up we’re a pretty strong team.

“One of the biggest things is if we keep clean sheets we’re going to win. At times at the start of the season it was just silly goals going in. If you know that you can keep it solid at the back you can push on forward and get results.”

Hutchinson came close to getting his first goal for Millwall only to see one header cleared of the line by Raphael Rossi Branco in the first half before Lawrence Vigouroux pulled of a brilliant save from another header from a corner late in the second.

In his first seven games as a professional footballer, for Motherwell, Hutchinson scored three goals, and he wants to start contributing in the same way for Millwall.

“I get a lot of stick because I started my career with a lot of goals and everyone thought I was going to be scoring goals on set-pieces, but it kind of died down,” he said.

“And then whenever I get my head on it it seems to go over the bar or it’s cleared off the line or the goalkeeper saves it. But hopefully sometime soon they’ll start flying in and I can help the team with goals.”

Hutchinson has started Millwall’s last three games after injuries restricted him to just four appearances in the first four months of the season.

Now he hopes his injury problems are behind him as he focuses on helping Millwall into promotion contention.

“In the past I was a bit hesitant in what I was doing and maybe then tried to push myself a bit too quickly,” he said. “But this time I feel a lot better. Credit to the physios and the fitness staff, they’ve really taken their time with me this time and made sure I was ready to go when I was ready.

“Hopefully that’s the end of it, I’ve played three games in a short period of time and hopefully I can push on and help this team go up the league.

“Without getting carried away, we all believe we’ve got more than a good enough squad to really push on and get that top six. I know last year they were on a similar number of points to this year, and I don’t see why we can’t do it again.

“The biggest thing is to finish in there with momentum. You saw last season with Barnsley when they did it, they were a team that just got in there but had the momentum of winning games for fun.

“Once you get to the end of the season you really have to have that momentum.”

Image source: ©Millwall FC

John Kelly