Behind Enemy Lines: Bristol City

MILLWALL stretched their unbeaten run to five games on Friday night against Nottingham Forest.

It was the second successive 2-2 draw at The Den after the Lions twice came from behind against Wigan Athletic in their previous game in South Bermondsey.

Millwall face another busy week as they head to Ashton Gate to take on Bristol City tonight before Saturday's clash at Derby.

The Robins are currently sitting in fourth place in the table and were 2-1 winners at Fulham on Saturday afternoon.

Alex Grace spoke to Robins fan Paul Binning this week.

Why do you support Bristol City?

I'm a lifelong fan and they're my local team. Mum and Dad do, Uncle does, Grandad did.

What has been your favourite season following the Robins?

Probably got to say 2014-15. Smashing the league with 99 points and promotion from League One never really looked in doubt, we were just that good.

Topping it off with a JPT Trophy to win the double and rounding it off with an 8-2 win at home to Walsall on the final day with our centre-back Aden Flint scoring a hat-trick summed up the season nicely.

We almost literally did what we wanted that year and the squad are all still very close, most of them attending weddings and holidays together.

And the worst?

Plenty of apathetic seasons where we appear to have given up – too many to mention.

But I'll probably go with our Championship season of 1998-99. We'd been promoted by Easter Saturday the previous season along with Watford, and between us we had walked the league, and then spent really big (£1.2m for us in those days was a transfer record) on a goal-scorer, Ade Akinbiyi, in the summer.

Hope and expectation was really high but we never looked at the races. We sacked promotion-winning manager John Ward ridiculously early on just as we were getting some form together, and drifted to rock bottom, eventually being relegated not even a year after having got back up.

The Robins are fourth in the table right now – are you worried about January, that clubs may come in for some of the players?

Not really. We're a bit of a sum-of-the-parts team rather than having anyone truly outstanding like Hull's Jarrod Bowen.

The two obvious names teams will be looking at are captain Josh Brownhill and 18-year old sensation Han-Noah Massengo. But having sold £40m worth of players in the summer we've absolutely no need to sell and should be in a position to resist.

Both of them will probably be gone in the summer, however, if we don't make it up.

Lee Johnson is now the longest serving manager in the Championship – how do you rate the job he has done?

He's done really well. There are some that say 'so he should' given the money he's had to spend, but he's partly had so much money because of the young players he's coached and developed such as Joe Bryan and Lloyd Kelly, or brought in such as Adam Webster.

Tactically he's up there with anyone, even if sometimes it feels like he tinkers too often and plays against the strengths of the opposition rather than to our own. But no, 8.5/10 overall, edging towards a 9.

City have just one victory over the Millwall in the last six attempts – why do you think that is?

Under Johnson one of his faults has been an inability to play against the more robust teams, with no disrespect intended.

Cardiff, you guys, the likes of Neil Warnock's Rotherham and others have all caused us issues where we struggle to break down a more physical team. Give us Fulham instead, who always play passing tempo football against us, and we win every time!

Is getting into the play-offs the aim this season?

Definitely. The whole club is geared towards it and from Johnson, through to CEO Mark Ashton and chairman Jon Lansdown – they've all talked of promotion being the target.

Gary Rowett has made a good start to his reign at Millwall and is currently on a five-match unbeaten run – do you think he is a good fit?

Yes, you'd think so. I think he's a good manager who's had one or two bum jobs for one reason or another. He seems like a good fit and will get the best out of players who probably need a certain type of manager to perform at their best.

If you could sign one Millwall player, who would it be and why?

Jake Cooper is probably the stand-out player from what I've seen but we're well-stocked on centre-backs right now.

Jed Wallace is the other name that spring to mind but what we really need is a strong, agile number nine striker – have you got one of those?

Er, no. Who will be your key men on Tuesday?

At home we've struggled to break some teams down and so you'd suggest the more creative players might be key.

Niclas Eliasson has only started five matches but has eight assists and his crossing is as good as anyone's in the division. You can expect plenty of play down our flanks and crosses pinging over all evening.

Will you be at the game on Tuesday?

Unfortunately not, bit of a clash with kids' concerts and events over at my base in South Wales, so I'll be tuning in via alternative methods…

What is your predicted Bristol City starting XI and formation?

Johnson really likes to switch things around and rest players, but having won two in a row, including an unusual free-scoring home win last time out, I'd expect the same line-up.

A flexible 4-4-2 as follows: Bentley; Hunt, Williams, Baker, Rowe; Brownhill, Nagy, Massengo, Eliasson; Weimann, Diedhiou

Finally, a score prediction?

I'm never too confident with us playing at home as we draw a lot of games, but I think we're on a roll and have certain players in good form.

So I'll go with a 2-0 Robins victory this time.

Graphic: @ShedCreative