MILLWALL’S Championship status was ensured for the 2019-20 season after Rotherham’s 2-1 loss to West Brom on Saturday afternoon.
The Lions had drawn 0-0 against Stoke to leave the door open for the Millers to take the survival battle down to the wire, but the Baggies came back from 1-0 down to take all three points.
Boss Neil Harris hinted that there may be changes for this game after survival was earned – though he will only play players ‘that want to play for this club’.
Bristol City are four points off the play-offs but need to win both their final two games and hope results go for them elsewhere to finish sixth.
In December’s reverse fixture at Ashton Gate, Shaun Williams’ goal earned a point for the travelling side.
Lucas Ball spoke to Robins fan Paul Binning ahead of the game.
Why do you support Bristol City?
Always have. My Grandad did – though as with many older fans used to go to Rovers on alternate Saturdays post-war – and my Mum was carrying me through the gates when she couldn’t squeeze through the turnstiles any more. I had no choice, really!
What’s been your favourite season following the Robins?
The favourite was actually just a few seasons ago when we swept to the League One title with some ease and won the JPT for good measure.
I’ve never seen a season like it before, when we just went into games knowing we were going to win. Too easy in a way, but when you’ve supported City for so long and seen so many disappointments, it was glorious.
To seal promotion with a 6-0 win away from home and win 8-2 on the final day says it all, really.
And the worst?
Quite a few. We’ve developed quite a habit over the years of getting promoted back to the Championship and then failing miserably to compete.
Should Lee Johnson keep his job if they fail to reach play-offs?
One hundred per cent. We’ve overachieved getting to where we are.
The expectations were more around mid-table pre-season having lost four key players in the summer, so to have a season like we’ve had has been a pleasant surprise
That push has faltered in recent weeks – what have been the problems?
Ultimately we’re not quite good enough. Probably two, maybe three players away from being genuine top-end contenders.
That’s come to haunt us at home especially where we’ve failed to beat any of Birmingham, Ipswich, Wigan or Reading in recent weeks.
What sort of game are you expecting?
It could actually be quite open, though I’m sure LJ will be hyping his team-talk up with the prospect of forcing Derby and Boro to think about us at least on the final day.
We’ve been more open recently having won a lot of away games 1-0 earlier in the season.
What did you make of Millwall during their trip to Ashton Gate?
Millwall under Neil Harris are always much the same. I think you sometimes get a reputation for being bully boys but you’re strong and solid and that’s slightly different.
He knows your strengths and you play to them, and generally that works out well. Well organised, robust and occasionally direct would be my take.
He’s always seemed a decent sort and has probably over-achieved from an outsider’s view, with your great push last season and the cup runs.
No disrespect to him, but you have to wonder if he’d be as good anywhere else (a bit like Chris Wilder), as he just gets the ‘Millwall way’ and that spirit has taken you to a relative level of success.
Which of the Robins’ players will the Lions need to pay most attention to?
Away from home especially Famara Diedhiou up front has been a handful, causing the big centre-halves of Stoke, Middlesbrough and Sheffield United huge amounts of problems on his own.
Our main attacking threat in the last month has actually been left-back Jay Dasilva, who’s put in countless crosses and should’ve scored at least two/three goals with better finishing.
Likewise, which Millwall players are you worried about facing?
I haven’t seen much of you but Jake Cooper at the back always looks decent, and Jed Wallace is a good attacking option (though did I see somewhere he was injured?) Apart from Lee Gregory you seem to share goals around a fair bit and I’d assume you’re still a big threat from set-pieces.
If you could sign one of his players, who would it be and why?
Probably from what I’ve seen it would be Cooper, though we’re not short in that position ourselves at present.
What’s your predicted Bristol City starting XI and formation?
Ha, that’s a tricky one. Through January to March it was largely the same team each week but since the last international break, Johnson has started to tweak formations and personnel a lot.
We’ve played 4-5-1, 3-5-2, 3-4-2-1 and even a weird, narrow 4-2-2-2 which worked unbelievably well against West Brom. So who knows?! I’d suspect it might be back to 4-5-1 given some of our personnel issues.
Will you be at the game on Tuesday night?
Sadly not. I’ve got my kids to get to bed and school the next morning and I couldn’t come up with a good alternative plan in time.
It’s a shame, despite the location which can be a balls-ache to get to, especially midweek. I quite like travelling to the Lion’s Den.
Finally, what’s your score prediction?
I’m going go with a slightly unexpected 3-1 away win. You’re safe and I’d assume will struggle to produce the intensity your game requires.
We’ve attacked quite well in the last two months without being clinical enough.
That result would also give us a smidgen of hope for Sunday, meaning we’ll all travel the bloody long road to Hull to then have our hopes dashed by a first-minute Middlesbrough goal at Rotherham!