MILLWALL host Scunthorpe on Thursday night when they will hope to establish a good lead in the first leg of their play-off semi-final before Sunday’s return leg at Glanford Park, to strengthen their chances of reaching a fourth play-off final in their last four seasons of League One football.
Each side won their home game in the regular season, with Scunthorpe taking the points in a 3-0 December victory and more recently, Millwall beat the Iron 3-1 at The Den in April.
Lucas Ball spoke to Scunthorpe fan Alfie Wattam ahead of this week’s first leg.
Why do you support Scunthorpe?
My dad is actually, and unfortunately, a Leeds fan, but it was my mum who took me to my first match.
My sister had been going with my uncle to watch Scunthorpe and I really wanted to go watch football too. As Scunthorpe were my local side, my mum took me to see a pre-season game against Leeds in 2006 and ever since I’ve had a season ticket.
Scunthorpe looked like they would run away with the league at one point, what went wrong for Graham Alexander’s side?
At the start of the season, everything was going our way and we had more than our fair share of luck. The form of players like Josh Morris was instrumental to our early season success, but we all knew it would run out eventually.
After Morris began to lose his goal-coring form, we also got a few injuries to key players, most notably David Mirfin. After not really investing in January either, our form dropped massively, with Sheffield United being quick to take our spot at the top of the table.
After not being in the top six for the whole of last season, Scunthorpe were in that bracket for the whole of 2016-17. What has been key to the success?
As mentioned previously, we had a very strong start to the season, which really helped us keep our play-off place even after our long winless streak.
On top of that we’ve always seemed to have an in-form player. At the start of the season, this was obviously Morris, but recently near the end of the season Ivan Toney has started to find some goal-scoring form.
Who do you expect to be a threat from the Scunthorpe side on Thursday night?
Toney is our main goal-scoring threat at the moment, so he’d be the obvious choice. Despite a rough start he’s quickly became a key part of our side with his link-up play, finishing and pace all being huge for us near the end of the season.
However, I do think it will be a really tough match, so our central midfield duo of Stephen Dawson and Neal Bishop could be really important. Both are old-fashioned, tough midfielders who will battle for every ball and offer an assist or two as well.
Who do you think Millwall’s danger men will be in the first leg?
Lee Gregory is always a tough striker to play against. Luckily, I wasn’t at our last match at The Den. However, I was initially happy that Gregory didn’t start – although that didn’t seem to matter in the end. I would assume he’d be starting this time and he’s going to have to be kept quiet if we’re to come away with anything.
Steve Morison also worries me, an experienced striker who can get a goal from out of nothing, even if the game isn’t going in Millwall’s favour.
What formation and line-up do you expect Graham Alexander to select?
I would expect us to line up with a 4-4-2, like we have done most of the season. Daniels; Clarke, Mirfin, Wallace, Townsend; Holmes, Dawson, Bishop, Morris; Madden, Toney.
Finally, what is your score prediction for the first leg of this Sky Bet League One play-off semi-final?
I expect it to be a very tough game for us, especially given the occasion and the atmosphere it will bring out from the Millwall fans.
I would think we’d definitely improve on our last result at The Den and predict: Millwall 1-2 Scunthorpe.