Behind Enemy Lines: Bristol City

MILLWALL are looking for their first away win since April as they travel to Ashton Gate on Sunday.

The Lions have taken just one point from their last four games in the Championship, and they also possess the joint-second leakiest defence in the division.

Fourteenth-place Bristol City have netted the same amount of goals as Neil Harris’ side, yet conceded nine fewer.

Lucas Ball spoke to Mike Adams of the Bristol City Supporters’ Club this week.

Why do you support Bristol City?

I came to Bristol in 1959 and began going to football in the 1970s when City climbed back into the top flight. Plus I live south of the Avon!

What’s been your favourite season following the Robins?

1985-86 is one of my favourites because we were on the up again with a wonderful set of exciting and personable players and manager at that level, with the added bonus of our first-ever appearance at Wembley (Winning the Associate Members' Cup – now the EFL Trophy).

And the worst?

1981-82 saw the club, in a desperate financial state, plunge into the bottom division with many players blooded before their time.

Last season, the Lions took four points from Lee Johnson’s men, but City have looked much worse this season. What do you think has been the main root of their problems?

Three main pillars of the team, including two Bristol-born academy products (Joe Bryan and Bobby Reid) left in one fell swoop.

Despite the best efforts of undoubtedly quality players, the team is yet to recover its mojo that was so evident in the run to the Carabao Cup semi-finals.

Is Johnson still the man for the job at Ashton Gate?

I appreciate the club’s strategy to get into the Premier League by degrees and with a sensible economic model.  I think Lee Johnson, who has the club at heart, and the rest of the football staff are right for the job and have a good record on the road to achieving that goal.

In the competitive situation, you are always going to go through adverse times as we had recently with four straight losses including two at home (before this week’s 3-2 win at Ipswich).

We have many vocal fans who are very quick to show their frustration and anger. I was fearing the increased flak when we went 0-1 down at Ipswich midweek but fortunately the team showed their true mettle and were able to turn things around.

I hope that is a genuine corner turned and not an isolated success.

What do City need in January to match your overall expectations for this year?

We lost three players in the summer who all contributed goals and though the new players are good in terms of match stats, they do lack that goal-scoring side to their game or are not displaying it currently.  The management need to address that critical area.

Again, in the competitive situation, this is easier said than done.

Millwall’s defence is the joint-second worst in the division at present – do the Robins have enough about them in attack to take advantage of that?

We showed at Ipswich that we do have the firepower and the means of delivering the ball into dangerous areas.  We just need to put it all together on a regular basis.

Who will be the danger men for the home side?

Record signing Famara Diédhiou blows hot and cold so has never managed to build confidence with the fans and probably within himself. Nevertheless, he can put himself about and can affect matches as he did at Ipswich.

We have many good players on the wings and it depends who is in the team. Left-back Lloyd Kelly, his on-loan stand-in Jay Dasilva, Callum O’Dowda, Niclas Eliasson and recent introduction Hakeeb Adelekun can all do the business on their day.

Marlon Pack and Liam Walsh can combine well in midfield.

Similarly, which Millwall players will City be wary of?

From last season’s experience, Tom Elliott, Jed Wallace and Steve Morison can play well against us.

I don’t think it’s individuals as much as the Millwall style of play, which can knock City off their stride.  We often find it difficult to impose our style of play and to hurt teams in the final third commensurate with our build-up play. Luckily for us, Elliott is out injured.

The Lions’ striker woes may have worsened on Wednesday as Lee Gregory went off appearing to have a groin/stomach problem. How much of a boost does that provide for your side?

I think this is bound to breed an element of confidence as Gregory is an established striker, who affected last season’s games.

What are your thoughts on Neil Harris?

From afar I think Neil Harris has a connection with Millwall in much the same way as Lee Johnson with City, in fact more so as he has had two stints there as a player and other previous roles within the club.

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

I have limited knowledge of Millwall’s players. I know Steve Morison has been an outstanding servant for Millwall but he would not fit into City’s current style.

What’s your predicted starting XI and formation for the Robins?


Mäenpää; Pisano, Webster, Kalas, Kelly; Eliasson, Walsh, Pack, Paterson; Diédhiou, Weimann.

(Paterson playing behind the front two.)

Will you be at Sunday’s game?

Of course!

Finally, what’s your score prediction?

Bristol City 3-1 Millwall

Graphic: @ShedCreative