Pearce: The pressure is on Aston Villa – and Millwall are out to upset the party

ALEX Pearce insists going to Aston Villa on Monday holds no fear for Millwall and facing the Championship’s form side can bring out the best in the Lions.

Villa have scored 22 goals in nine straight league wins and are on the verge of securing a play-off place.

Millwall are unbeaten in four games against Villa, and would all but secure their Championship status if they cause an upset with a first victory at Villa Park since 1987, and Rotherham lose at home to Birmingham City.

“Villa are a very good side, on any given day they can beat anyone. But we can as well. We can give any team in this league a good game,” Pearce said.

“They’re massive favourites going into the game, we’re massive underdogs.

“They are expected to beat us, so it’s a different type of pressure for them. We can go there with an attitude of, we want to upset the party. Hopefully we can do that.

“We have to go there and be hard to beat, like we are at the moment, we’re not conceding many goals.

“We’ve got to start all over again Monday, earn the right to play from the first minute.

“It kind of suits us as a club, with our mentality, that we can go to big places like that and perform. Teams higher up the table can find it difficult against us, the way we play. We make it difficult and teams can get frustrated with us, especially at their own ground where the home fans can get frustrated.

“That’s what we like to do and hopefully can do on Monday.

“They’ve got various players who can cause you problems going forward. I wouldn’t like to pick out any individuals because all of them are very capable and that’s why they’re at a great club like Villa. On any given day they can pick a team that’s more than capable of winning the game.

“We’ve just got to focus on ourselves, recover, rest up because there’s not a lot of time, and go there in a positive mood.”

It’s not the first time Pearce has been involved in a relegation battle.

He continued: “I was on loan at Bristol City a couple of years ago. That was one and we managed to stay up. When I was a kid I was on loan at Norwich in the Championship under Glenn Roeder and we managed to stay up that year as well.

“On loan at Northampton as well, and Bournemouth. As a kid at Reading I was sent out on loan quite a few times to various relegation scraps.

“The biggest advice I could give is take care of your own individual performances. Don’t get side-tracked by looking too far ahead, or what’s happened in the past. Learn from what’s happened but clear your head, take care of the next game. Individually perform to the best you can. Live your life right off the pitch. That would be my best advice I could give anyone.

“After the game you look at results, for sure. But what’s the point looking at results before a game, thinking, ‘if we win that, win that, or lose that…’ It’s pointless.

“You’ve just got to take care of business, perform as best you can. If you do the majority of things well on the pitch, I’ve always been told the result will take care of itself. That’s what we should be thinking about for the rest of the season, not looking too much into results elsewhere.”

Lee Gregory gave Millwall the lead against Brentford

Millwall let slip the chance to move five points clear of third-last Rotherham on Saturday when they drew 1-1 at home to 10-man Brentford after taking a 15th-minute lead through Lee Gregory.

But Brentford, who have little to play for, equalised when Joshus Da Silva found the top corner from 25 yards in the 20th minute.

“There’s certainly an element of frustration, especially with them going down to 10 men, but you’ve got to give Brentford credit,” Pearce said. “They’re a very good side, they cause you a lot of problems going forward with the formation they play. I think with 10 men they played well.

“We’ve got to do more going forward trying to break them down. Second half we didn’t put them under enough pressure with our quality in the final third. Ultimately we need to be careful not to get done on the counter-attack.

“A draw was near enough a fair result. It’s a point gained, keeps the run going. We know in that dressing room we’re doing certain things right or else we wouldn’t have four games unbeaten.

“We’re in there fighting, but we just need to add that little bit of quality going forward. Hopefully we can do that on Monday.

“I’ve been there myself and when you’ve got nothing to play for, not going up, not going down, it can give you a sense of freedom. Especially with the type of players Brentford have, they’re very technical, that worked for them. They could go out there and play with a free spirit, no pressure, that brings the best out of their players.

“All we’re looking at is the next game. We’ve got four games left, there is a lot of points to play for but we’ve just got to take care of the next game.

“If we take care of our own performances, each game, each minute, I’m sure the end goal will be staying up."

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly