Wallace: League the priority – but Millwall can make a name for themselves at Tottenham

MILLWALL winger Jed Wallace is “not really too bothered” what the outcome of this Sunday’s quarter-final with Tottenham is, reiterating promotion is all he wants this season.

Wallace made his comeback after missing four games with a calf strain in Millwall’s 2-1 win over MK Dons on Saturday.

That result leaves Millwall sixth in League One, just six points off second-placed Fleetwood ahead of their next league game against Bury on Saturday week.



Wallace acknowledges it is a chance to “make a name for ourselves” at White Hart Lane, but insists the only thing that counts is getting out of League One.

“I’m not really too bothered, I’d take an 8-0 defeat now if it meant that we were in the play-off final at Wembley,” he said. “I don’t really care about the FA Cup.

“I wanted to come on (Saturday) and do well to be in the team to face Bury and beat Bury. Next weekend is a bonus. Whether we get beat 4-0, or win 1-0 and make a name for ourselves, that’s fine.



“The only success we want is to be playing in the Championship next season.

“It’s not that we’re not bothered, but it’s not the main priority. Are the midfielders going to run 12 kilometres like they did (Saturday)? Of course they are. Am I going to do 1,200 metres high-intensity (sprints)? Of course I am.

“We are going to give everything we possibly can. But if you offered every player in the dressing room beating Spurs away or getting promoted, I can tell you for a fact that 100 per cent of the dressing room would be in Vegas this summer on a promotion party.

“We’re playing Spurs away, it is a great occasion and will be the biggest game in my career in terms of who I’m paying against and where.

“Whether mentally it will be a game I want to win the most, probably not. It’s a great opportunity for us. We’re taking more than 3,000 fans, it’s a local derby. It’s a good opportunity for them, they’ve backed us in a lot of difficult fixtures, Oldham away for example. They spend a lot of money to go to them, so they have a big away day.

“We’re going to take the shackles off. If we lose 4-0 no one is going to bat an eyelid, so it’s an opportunity for us to go and make a name for ourselves.”

The win over MK Dons means Millwall take a 17-game unbeaten run into the fixture.

Fourteen of those have been in the league, since a 3-0 defeat to Scunthorpe in December left the Lions 16 points off the automatic promotion places.

Millwall conceded a goal for the first time in 10 games last Saturday, but Wallace believes that actually was the jolt they needed to get three points.

He explained: “It was a bit of a surreal feeling, we hadn’t conceded in nine games, there was a little bit of, ‘oh, we’re not invincible’. And we might have needed that, we were awful. The manager will be the first to say that and it’s probably the worst I’ve seen us play in all my time here.

“We’re played a lot better than that and been beaten, but successful teams find ways to win football matches. By hook or by crook we nicked it.

“In terms of the top two it’s on our hands. At the moment Fleetwood are the ones to finish above but I still believe if you finish above Bolton you’re probably going to get second. We want to be in the hunt for promotion, whether through the play-offs or top two, that’s the way it’s been since the start of the season.

“I’m a great believer in you earn your own luck. It’s not like we’re been hanging on for dear life in games and keeping clean sheets, it’s a case of them not really getting into our half.

“Everyone knows what we are like, we score and then we sit in two banks of four and it’s a case of, ‘come and break us down’. Boys in the Premier League on 30, 40, 50 grand a week struggled to do it.

“With two colossal centre-halves it’s difficult to break us down.”

At the other end of the pitch Lee Gregory’s double against the Dons brought to 100 the number of goals he, Steve Morison and Aiden O’Brien have scored since the start of last season.

Gregory missed two penalties at Oldham but made up for that by netting two spot-kick winners in the following two games, the second after Dean Bowditch had minutes earlier sent a point-blank header over Tom King’s crossbar.

“How he is still at this level is beyond me,” Wallace said when asked about Gregory. “For a Sheffield Wednesday or a decent Championship side chasing promotion I think he’d get 20 goals.

“Luckily we’ve got the two best strikers in the division. Billy Sharp can maybe sit at the table with them. Moro has clipped the ball in there, a bit of knowhow, and Gregs has got the pen. Everyone in the changing room backs him to put it away and he’s done it.

“(Zlatan) Ibrahimovic last week scored a free-kick, this week he misses a penalty, the best players in the world miss penalties. It’s the way it is. You’re taking a penalty in a swamp (at Oldham), it’s not easy, especially with the added pressure of it being the 90th minute.

“It’s all immaterial because we’ve kept the run going. If we can pick up 22, 23 points in the rest of the season we’ll be there or thereabouts.

“The good thing about the changing room here is everyone understands what everyone is good at. If we have the front two on the pitch and the rest of us do what we have to so then we have every chance of winning games at League One level.

“We’ve made the most of back-to-back wins after that disappointment. That shows the strength of the group. If you said to the manager seven points from Oldham away and these two home games, he would have taken it.

“I was about to have a go at Moro – well, in my head have a go because I’m too scared of him! – that he should have played it down the line to me. But he’s hooked it into the box and we’ve got something.

“If we fall a point short it’s pointless to say we missed those penalties at Oldham. The guy missed an open goal on Saturday, these things even out over the season.

“Gregs has won us six points, effectively, so happy days.”

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly

(@jkelly1882)

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