Millwall’s statement week sends serious message to Championship Play-Off rivals

4 min

After two strong performances against the Championship’s high flyers, Millwall have proved to the rest of the league that they are serious Play-Off candidates.

The Lions came out on top in Saturday’s five-goal thriller against Sheffield United and battled hard against runaway leaders Burnley to make it four points in four days. 

Gary Rowett’s side did not just keep their name in the Play-Off picture with the results but also announced to their competitors that, this year, Millwall have what it takes to go all the way.

Over the last three seasons, the Lions have flirted with finishing in the top six but have never managed to last the course, yet this season feels different.

Few predicted such a strong display against the Blades following a disappointing mid-week showing at Coventry City, but at The Den, there is no side Millwall fear.

Once again, SE16 has been a fortress this season and Rowett’s side will feel confident of continuing to pick up results on home turf for the remainder of the campaign. 

Half of Millwall’s remaining 14 games are at home, including their second game against Play-Off rivals Luton Town and a season closer against current fourth-placed Blackburn Rovers. 

The Den will be a crucial factor in those crunch fixtures as Millwall aim to better last season’s tally of 13 home wins.

However, it could be on the road where their fate is ultimately decided. Luckily for Lions’ fans, this year, their side looks more than capable of picking up points away from South East London more regularly than in previous seasons.

Five wins on the road has already equalled their tally from last season and Rowett’s side need only seven more points to better their return last year.

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Of the seven remaining away fixtures, five of Millwall’s opponents are in the bottom half of the table, including two of the bottom three. 

Whilst the pressure of expectation has often been a thorn in the side of ambitious Millwall teams, the side has a steel and determination that could prove crucial under Rowatt.

The January additions of Oli Burke and Duncan Watmore seem to have had the desired impact, adding depth and variety to the side while Billy Mitchell’s injury has gone largely unnoticed due to Jamie Shackleton stepping up and Ryan Leonard returning to fitness.

Even Charlie Cresswell has regained form and is filling the boots of Shaun Hutchinson adequately.

This side has shown it can handle adversity and overcome slumps to rise to the occasion with that battling spirit crucial in bouncing back against both Sheffield United and Burnley this week.

If Millwall can get through their final two games of a heavily congested February with a decent points haul, they will be excellently placed to tighten their grip on a Play-Off spot.

March is often the time when the Championship Play-Off race begins to thin out and teams start to fall away so maintaining form now will be crucial for Rowett’s side.

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The Lions trip to Kenilworth Road on February 28th feels particularly significant, the match being rearranged from December and is both sides’ game in hand. 

Currently sitting level on 50 points, both sides are Play-Off underdogs with a win for either potentially buying a bit of breathing space in what is as tight a race as ever for the top six.

No doubt the Championship will have a number of surprises left in store for Millwall, but this season may be the clubs’ best shot at achieving their goal.

And after a strong week against the two best sides in the division, there’s no doubt people will be paying attention to Millwall now.

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