The play-off race is really hotting up as North End face another side who will no doubt be hoping to finish in the top six in Millwall.
Alex Neil’s men head into the game 6 matches unbeaten, top of the form table and will be looking to extend that run and improve on what has been a very impressive February so far which was marked as ‘crucial’ by the gaffer at the beginning of the month.
Millwall are in and around the chasing pack of the play-offs, sitting in 11th but are at risk of losing ground on the top 6 as they already sit 7 points off North End who currently occupy the 6th spot in the Championship.
The away side will be looking to get back on track being without a win in 4 league games, but can go into the encounter at Deepdale with confidence after taking a point off local rivals Fulham last time out.
North End will be looking to get back to winning ways at home after dropping points last time out at Deepdale to Swansea. But the away form has certainly picked up with 3 away wins on the bounce, the latest coming in midweek against Stoke.
A defensively solid performance with North End taking their two main chances they had proved pivotal as we did manage to do it on a cold night in Stoke. Two tap-ins from two set-pieces meant North End moved to within 3 points of the automatics with the midweek victory.
This added to the away win last week in the derby at Wigan where a Daniel Johnson goal from a slick team move ensured Preston enjoyed derby day delight and came away with the 3 points.
Millwall have dropped off a bit in recent weeks after losing a 2-0 lead away at Elland Road to lose 3-2, and then having a tough start to February with a draw against Sheffield Wednesday, alongside a defeat to table-toppers West Brom and a point in the derby against Fulham.
One of the dangers in this strong Millwall side is former Barnsley striker Tom Bradshaw. The forward has a goal every 205 minutes with the Welshman already into double figures for the season, and will most likely pose a threat to North End’s defence.
Bradshaw has been a main figure upfront for the Lions, featuring in 35 games in all competitions. He’s also scored against some of the best defences in the league such as Leeds, Brentford and West Brom, so we’re certainly going to have to watch out for the frontman.
Another danger for me would be centre half, Jake Cooper. He’s only got 1 goal to his name this season but 7 goals last campaign show how much a threat he can be from set-pieces and someone North End will have to mark tightly.
The 6′ 3″ defender will also make things difficult at the top end of the pitch for North End. You would imagine that our play will be on the deck unless Neil chooses to go with a more physical option up top in the form of Jayden Stockley.
Millwall’s defence has certainly tightened up since the arrival of Gary Rowett. In his 20 games in charge, they have conceded 20 goals, an average of 1 goal per game. That was compared to 17 goals conceded in Neil Harris’ 12 games, an average of 1.4 goals conceded per game.
Cooper has played a big part in that, so breaking this Millwall defence down may well prove to be a frustrating task, similar to our last home outing against Swansea.
Our opposition view comes to you this week from Millwall fan, Alex Grace. Alex is a freelance football journalist and broadcaster and does work with NewsAtDen, a site about all things Millwall FC.
This has been a very successful season for Millwall so far. After last seasons 21st placed finish many were hoping that the club would avoid another relegation battle.
Our start to the campaign was mixed. A couple of wins mixed with a few draws and defeats left us 17th in the table and not quite sure what the season was going to hold.
Neil Harris’ departure came as a shock to everyone at the club with no one quite expecting it. The main view from the fans was that perhaps it was the right decision, he had done a good job but it was probably the right time for him to move on.
He has since taken over at Cardiff and they have started to pick up results themselves now.
In terms of the rest of the season, this game, in my opinion, is huge for us, if we are to still be in the mix for the top then we need to win here. If that can be done then with a more favourable end to the season to come then there is still an outside chance of the top six.
I think Gary Rowett will stick with the five at the back system and will line up very similar if not the same as we did against Fulham.
Bialkowski; Romeo, Cooper, Pearce, Hutchinson, M Wallace; Woods, Molumby; J Wallace, Bradshaw, Bodvarsson.
I think this one will end a score draw, though. I’ll say 2-2.
I believe this will be a tough game with Millwall looking to rebuild their momentum but I do think we have the quality to break this stubborn Millwall defence down and get the 3 points so I’m going to go with a 2-0 win.
After Wednesday night’s defensive performance from Declan Rudd and Ben Davies, I think we could be looking at back to back clean sheets. Some people have described Ben Davies’ performance against the Potters as “the best game of his career”.
Tom Barkhuizen is in fine form at the minute and I can see that continuing as I think he will score for the 3rd game running. As for the other scorer, I can see Daniel Johnson notching again and adding to his tally of an already impressive 10 goals for the campaign.
In terms of an XI prediction, I can see Alex Neil wanting to freshen things up. I think he will potentially bringing Josh Harrop back in and play Tom Barkhuizen back through the middle. I’ll go with: Rudd; Fisher, Bauer, Davies, Hughes; Pearson, Browne; Harrop, Johnson, Sinclair; Barkhuizen.
Hopefully, we’ll be able to pick up another 3 points as we look to close in on the automatic promotion places, whilst solidifying our play-off position which is the main aim.
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