The first match-preview of the new season is here. It’s been an interesting summer to say the least and there are still a few days left of the transfer window at the time of writing, so I’m sure you’ll all agree, there is still plenty of time for stuff to happen.
Also, this will be our first full season as a site for us here at From the Finney as we were only ‘born’ if you will in February last season so any support you folks show us this season is appreciated. In case you’re not already following us, we’re on the following social media platforms and you can keep up to date with everything we’re doing, including the From the Finney Podcast – Twitter @fromthefinney, Instagram @fromthefinney and finally, Facebook @fromthefinney.
So, pre-season is finished and prep for the start of the 2019/20 Championship season has undoubtedly begun for Alex Neil and his men. This Saturday sees the Lilywhites head down to the Den looking to get the 2019/20 season off to a winning start but they’ll be faced with some noisy, passionate fans who are likely to turn out in their numbers, not just for the first game of the season but also to support what will be a fairly new-look side taking to the pitch in Millwall colours.
This summer has seen a number of players come and go at Millwall with the like of Lee Gregory, Conor McLaughlin and Ryan Tunnicliffe to name a few, all leaving for pastures new and Connor Mahoney, Frank Fielding, Matt Smith and Jón Dadi Bödvarsson all coming into the club. To say that this upcoming season will be one of change for Millwall wouldn’t be too far wrong but I doubt very much that there’ll be a big change in playing style under Neil Harris. It seems that they’ve gone out to try and add a bit of Championship experience to their side more than anything.
Both teams head into the new season off the back of a steady enough pre-season. North End played 7 games while Millwall played 5. Millwall’s pre-season kicked off with a 4-0 win over Concord Rangers followed by a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Braga, they beat Gillingham 2-1 and followed that up with a 2-1 defeat against Southend United just 3 days later before rounding off pre-season with a 3-3 draw against La Liga side Real Sociedad.
As for North End, back-to-back 2-0 wins over Northern Premier League Premier Division side Bamber Bridge and League of Ireland Premier Division side Cork City saw a solid enough start to pre-season. A trip to Fylde Coast beckoned which ended in a 4-0 win for Alex Neil and his boys.
We then had another local game which saw us head to Chorley. A very second-string side took to the pitch that night and I have to say, it was tough to watch until there was a mass of changes in the second half. Alan Browne was one of the players to come on and he had us 1-0 up inside a few seconds after firing past the Chorley keeper from the edge of the box. Graham Burke scored another one which sealed the win for North End.
Then we returned to Deepdale to face Ralph Hasenhüttl’s Southampton side. It’s safe to say we were well and truly beaten with Danny Ings at the double and Jake Vokins getting on the scoresheet, too. The one shining light was Billy Bodin getting North End on the scoresheet with a fine solo effort.
— From the Finney (@fromthefinney) July 20, 2019
A game at the Lancashire FA against Accrington Stanley, who kindly stepped in after Bolton Wanderers informed the club that they wouldn’t be able to fulfil the fixture. By all accounts, this was a well-contested game which finished 1-1 and Patrick Bauer also got his first goal in a North End shirt since joining from Charlton Athletic.
The penultimate game of pre-season was a trip to Highbury Stadium where we were beaten 1-0 by Joey Barton’s men. The player who scored for the fishermen? Ashley Hunter. A player who’s been linked to North End a fair amount this summer. Will he join North End? Who knows, but we will find out sooner or later.
The final pre-season game of the season came at home to Newcastle United, their first on British soil under new manager, Steve Bruce. A game we won 2-1 thanks to a Paul Gallagher brace with two penalties. Overall, I felt we played well with a couple of standout performances but one, in particular, stood out to me and that was Patrick Bauer. I actually put him down as my ‘player I’m most looking forward to seeing‘ in our Championship and PNE prediction piece that went live on the site recently.
Overall though, I don’t think you can take too much from pre-season whoever you are. Man City or Macclesfield, I don’t think it really tells you much in the grand scheme of things but it’s certainly good to get some wins under your belt heading into the new season. Especially against a Premier League side.
The opposition view is back for another season! This time, we’re starting off with Lucas Ball. Lucas is back for his second contribution ahead of the game tomorrow at The Den. Lucas is on twitter here – @LucasBall2211. He also writes regularly for @NewsAtDen too should you wish to keep up with all things Millwall.
Last season was very nearly a disaster. From the very first game, we were conceding late goals and throwing games away when we were ahead, which was very nearly our downfall. Dressing room issues contributed to that and Neil Harris has made changes.
A goalkeeper (Frank Fielding), centre back (Alex Pearce), central midfielder (Jayson Molumby – loan), winger (Connor Mahoney), Jason McCarthy (right back), Bartosz Bialkowski (goalkeeper) and two strikers (Matt Smith & Jon Dadi Bodvarsson) have signed so far this summer. We’ve added some much-needed Championship experience as well as a couple of players with real quality who are capable of changing a game.
I think we’ll stay up, particularly given the state of some teams that are expected to be in the dogfight. Reading, Wigan and Charlton are just three sides that I expect to finish worse off than us, and I think we’re capable of finishing anywhere from 16th-19th, which I’d be happy with.
As far as score predictions go, I think we will win 2-1 and I’ll go with the following for our starting-XI: Fielding; Romeo, Pearce, Cooper, M. Wallace; J. Wallace, Leonard, Thompson, Mahoney; Smith, Bradshaw.
I’ve got literally nothing at all to base this prediction off but I’ve got a sneaky feeling we’ll come away 2-1 winners. I hate predicting 2-1s as it feels like the most used prediction but here I am.
I think it’ll be like most opening day games, close, tetchy and hard-fought with neither side wanting to slip up on the opening day but I feel we have enough about us, especially at the back, to deal with what Millwall could throw our way. It also seems that 62% of you agree with me, that we’ll come away from London with all 3 points. Thanks to the 221 of you who voted in the poll on twitter.
What you saying, #pnefc fans? 🗳
— From the Finney (@fromthefinney) August 1, 2019
As far as our starting XI is concerned, I think Neil will line us up something like this in Neil’s oft used 4-2-3-1 formation: Rudd; Clarke, Bauer, Davies, Hughes; Pearson, Gallagher; Bodin, Browne, Barkhuizen; Maguire.
How do you think we will set up? Could we see either of the new boys involved on the first day? Let us know on social media if you’ve read this post and any shares are appreciated, as always! Don’t forget to give the From the Finney Podcast a listen – podcast.fromthefinney.co.uk. You can also listen by hitting play on the web player below.