League One preview: Rochdale vs. Millwall

MILLWALL’S 3-2 defeat to Rochdale last September came in a run of six successive league games without a win.

The Lions were 2-1 up at The Den before they conceded an equaliser and after Ben Thompson was dismissed for two bookings (above) Ian Henderson’s 93rd-minute spot-kick won it for Rochdale.

“I think, in the nicest possible sense, they robbed us back in September with the last-minute penalty,” Lions boss Neil Harris said.

“We’d no complaints at the time but obviously Thommo getting sent off and then ending up losing the game was frustrating.

“There’s a big change in us since that day. Rochdale are a really dangerous team, especially at home. They’ve scored 10 goals in their last three home games.

“We’ll have to be every bit as good defensively as we have been over the last 15 league games when we’ve been undefeated.”

This is the first of seven games on the road for Millwall between now and the end of the season on April 30.

“We’ve had a lot of games at The Den,” said Harris, who could see Jordan Archer return to the side after injury. “We love playing there, and I love managing there. It’s brilliant to be at home with the advantages that gives you.

“Being away, certainly over the course of the next week, will do us some good. There’s been a lot of football to watch for our fans, a lot of expense for them. There’s been a lot of football on our pitch and that showed at the weekend.

“Playing away from home brings its own challenges, the fact you’re going to someone else’s backyard, on their pitch in front of their fans. If we want to be successful and achieve our goal this year to get promoted then you have to go away and pick up results.

“In September we lost three away games on the spin but other than that over the course of the last two years the away form has been excellent. We’ve got to get back to that siege mentality, that away, counterattacking form that led us to being so good on the road.

“We need to have that over the next five-and-a-half weeks.”

Rochdale, meanwhile, won for the first time in 12 games when they defeated Gillingham 4-1 last Saturday.

Dale are just six points behind Millwall, and their manager Keith Hill praised the board for their patience during that winless run.

“They see the infrastructure that we've put in place and the processes to be even more successful," Hill told BBC Radio Manchester.

“I’m fortunate enough that I've got very intelligent owners who can see through not winning a game since early January.

“I’m the most successful manager this club has ever had and there are plenty of clubs up and down the country who’d take me tomorrow.

“We play a lot of teams below us and I think that could give us some impetus going into the next stage of the season.”

Millwall record against Rochdale:

Played 11

Won 6 Drawn 2 Lost 3

Form guide:

Rochdale: LDDLW

Millwall: DWWLD

Probable Millwall team:

Millwall: 4-4-2: King; Cummings, Webster, Cooper, Craig; Wallace, Thompson, Williams, O’Brien; Gregory, Morison.

Match odds:

Rochdale: 6/4 Draw 12/5 Millwall 7/4

Image: Charlie Compitus  

John Kelly

(@jkelly1882)

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