MILLWALL picked up another good point on the road last week at Villa Park but it probably should have been the Lions’ first away victory of the season.
Goalkeeper Dave Martin made his debut in place of Jordan Archer, who was ill, and kept a clean sheet, making an excellent low save to deny Jack Grealish in the second half. Apart from that and an early spell, the Lions dominated and saw goalkeeper Sam Johnstone make a number of crucial saves at the other end.
Middlesbrough currently sit eighth, five points behind Sheffield United, who occupy the final play-off spot. With automatic promotion having been the target at the beginning of the season, it hasn’t been the best start for Boro boss Garry Monk, though there is still time to turn it around.
Britt Assombalonga has 11 goals so far, and Martin Braithwaite has added a further four. An expensive strike force, but it seems that they are, largely, doing a good job.
Lucas Ball spoke to Love Island 2017 star and Boro fan Sam Gowland ahead of this game.
Why do you support Middlesbrough?
They are my hometown club, simply. I grew up a Boro fan. I didn’t see the point in supporting a club which I’d never get to see.
What’s your favourite season supporting your team?
Definitely when we got promoted under Aiter Karanka in 2016. It was great to watch that year and he will be remembered for getting us back to the Premier League, even if he didn’t do much to keep us in it.
Is Garry Monk the right man for the job?
I’ve been very unconvinced up to now but will be hoping that he turns it around over December and January. Otherwise we will be well off the play offs…which should have been the absolute minimum target before the season started.
What do you guys need in January?
One thing we need more than anything else is a good winger. Patrick Bamford isn’t a natural out wide, and Stewart Downing is getting on a bit. Letting Albert Adomah go to Aston Villa was a mistake.
Who are Monk’s key men?
Patrick Bamford and Martin Braithwaite have both done well for us this season. They provide some creativity but also chip in with the odd goal from playing around Britt Assombalonga. Also, Adama Traore on his day is very dangerous, but he doesn’t produce it on a consistent enough basis.
Which Millwall players will the away side have to keep an eye on?
If Shaun Williams is back to full fitness, his creativity in midfield could prove crucial. Also, Jed Wallace looks to be a real danger man and our full-backs may find it tough to keep him quiet, particularly at The Den. Lee Gregory and Steve Morison have a great partnership and know each other’s’ games inside out, so it’ll be interesting to see how they get on.
What’s your predicted Middlesbrough line-up and formation?
4-2 -3 -1
Christie Gibson Ayala Fabio
Downing Braithwaite Bamford
Finally, a score prediction?
Millwall 1-3 Middlesbrough
Britt Assombalonga with two, Patrick Bamford grabbing the other.