Behind Enemy Lines: Bolton Wanderers

MILLWALL host Bolton on Saturday, with the Lions looking for a fourth consecutive win at The Den.

The Trotters sit two places below Neil Harris' side, a minus-12 goal difference compared to Millwall's minus-7, both on 16 points after 17 games.

Phil Parkinson's side have scored just 11 league goals all season, half that of their hosts. They haven’t won in seven games.

A win could move Millwall from 21st to 18th in the table.

Lucas Ball spoke to Viren Patel this week.

Twitter: @VIPBWFC

Why do you support Bolton?

They were my local team and I was introduced to them through a friend of my mum’s. He took us to games and my passion developed from there, really.

What’s been your favourite season following the Trotters?

The last time we were in League One in 2016-17 was quite enjoyable given our situation at the time.

For me as a fan, it was great to visit old-fashioned grounds like Roots Hall as well as small grounds such as that of Fleetwood.

I was a tad too young to enjoy our European tours (2005-06 and 2007-08) as much as I should've done.

And the worst?

The season that we were relegated from the Premier League in 2011-12.

Is Phil Parkinson still the right man for the job?

For me, Phil Parkinson wasn't the right man for the job in the second tier, but he performed a miracle to keep us in the division last year.

But, as much as I'm grateful for that, I think that his time has run its course. However, I doubt we can afford to sack him.

Bolton have scored just half the number of goals that Millwall have, but conceded seven goals fewer. What’s been the problem going forward?

Our style of play is my biggest concern and thus my belief as to why we haven't scored many. I just don't see how one striker up top on his own will bring us many goals, particularly at home.

Former Millwall man Mark Beevers still seems to be a key performer for Parkinson’s side. Who would you rather have if you had to pick between him and Jake Cooper?

I wouldn't say that he is a key player this year but over the last few seasons – especially in League One – he was very good. I've not seen much of Cooper, in truth, so I'm not sure who I'd rather have.

Looking ahead to January, where do Bolton most need to strengthen?

I think we need a back-up left-back to cover for Andy Taylor as well as a striker. I like Josh Magennis but I think he'd do better with a partner.

Do you think that they have enough about them to stay up?

On current form – no. I think we'll struggle and will be amazed if we finish 21st again.

Who will be the visitors’ danger men on Saturday?

Our danger man will be Sammy Ameobi, if he's fit. He seems to be the only player that will run at defenders and take them on, genuinely exciting the fans.

Likewise, which Millwall players will Bolton be most wary of?

Steve Morison knows where the goal is and we need to pay attention to him.

I've liked Shane Ferguson for a few years on the left, we need to stop him putting those crosses into the box.

What are your thoughts on Neil Harris?

Neil Harris is a club legend at Millwall and I think he's a very decent manager who knows what he wants and has the best interests of the club at heart. He sets his teams up well and they are hard to crack.

If you could sign one of his players, who would it be and why?

If I could sign one player, it'd be the aforementioned Ferguson. He can play anywhere down the left as well as being a danger from both set pieces and crosses.

Millwall have won their last three home games and Bolton haven’t scored in their last four matches – is this one a foregone conclusion?

It'll be a tough game but Bolton don't have a bad record at The Den. Our recent form does suggest that it could be a foregone conclusion but this is football and you never know. I think that the first 15 minutes will be crucial.

What’s your predicted Trotters’ starting XI and formation?


Alnwick; Olkowski, Wheater, Hobbs, Taylor; Lowe, Williams; Noone, Oztumer, Ameobi; Magennis

Will you be at the game on Saturday?

Unfortunately, I won't be there. I'll miss the atmosphere that The Den creates.

Finally, what’s your score prediction?

Millwall 2-1 Bolton. I think it'll be tough for us and expect Millwall to win, though I'd obviously love us to take all three points.

Graphic: @ShedCreative