Behind Enemy Lines: Bristol City

MILLWALL are bidding to extend their unbeaten run to 15 league games on Saturday after collecting four points over Easter.

For Bristol City, it has been a disappointing second half of the season so far. Lee Johnson’s side caught the eye with their performances against Manchester City in the League Cup semi-finals, but have won just twice in seven league games since.

City appeared to be in with a chance of automatic promotion in the first half of the season, but the Lions can overtake the Robins in the Championship table with a win on Saturday.



Lucas Ball spoke to Robins' fan Colin Bateman this week.

Why do you support Bristol City?

I have been supporting the side since about 1962, since my family moved to Somerset.



My father had friends who supported Bristol Rovers so we also went to Eastville quite regularly, but there was never any question in my mind that I was a Robin, not a Gashead.

What’s been your favourite season supporting the Robins?

There are three main contenders: 1976-77 – our first of four seasons back in the top tier which was a great adventure that we started with a 1-0 victory away to Arsenal.

2007-08 – our first season back in the Championship ended with a play-off final against Hull, and although we lost at Wembley, the season was an unexpected delight.

And 2014-15 – we were by far the best side in League One which we won with great elan under Steve Cotterill topped off by victory in the Football League Trophy. The manager was not the most popular but he helped make it a joyful season. The best, though, was 1976-77.

Which of these two sides do you think are more likely to make the top six?

I don't think either will make it, but of the two today, I would back Millwall because they have momentum at the right time. The Lions have exceeded all expectations and, as such, should be playing without fear.

Did you expect Lee Johnson's men to have this good a season?

No. After the struggles of the last two seasons, I would have seen a top-10 finish as good progress.

Several players – Bobby Reid, Josh Brownhill, Jamie Paterson and Callum O'Dowda. in particular – have kicked on really well, though, and some of the football played has been a delight, particularly when beating four Premier League clubs, including Manchester United, in the Carabao Cup.

Trouble is, we have a soft centre and teams can out-muscle us. To miss out now on the play-offs would be a disappointment but it has a memorable season, and one to build on.

Who do you think will be City’s danger men be on Saturday?

After a terribly flat performance against Brentford on Monday (and only three wins in 16 Championship matches since Boxing Day), head coach Lee Johnson is threatening to make changes.

But going forward, City's threat is likely to come from the movement and trickery of two regulars, Bobby Reid and Jamie Paterson. If our beanpole Bosnian striker Milan Djuric appears he can be a real handful, but a catalogue of injury problems tend to restrict him to 30-minute substitute appearances. Johnson may also throw O'Dowda – a pacey winger and Republic of Ireland international – into the fray after four months out, such was the dire performance against the Bees.

Which Millwall players will the away side be wary of?

I think Lee Gregory and Steve Morison are such a well-suited and smart pair. Their goal record may be modest, but they can pull defences around. We can be naive at the back and those two have the nous to cause problems.

The other player I have seen really come on is George Saville. I saw him play for the Lions five years ago when he was on loan from Chelsea and he looked a young boy lost, but he has matured into a really effective Championship midfielder.

What’s your predicted starting XI and formation?

This is a tough one. I will go for:

4-4-1-1

Fielding

Pisano Flint Baker Kelly

Brownhill Pack Smith Bryan

Paterson Reid

Subs: Steele, Wright, Walsh, O'Dowda, O'Neil, Diedhiou, Djuric.

Finally, a score prediction?

Millwall 0-1 Bristol City.

City to nick it! I have to say that, don't I?

Graphic: @ShedCreative 

Staff

(@NewsAtDen)