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Match Previews

Preview | Millwall v Walsall

24 December 2015

All you need to know about Boxing Day's game

Millwall face League One Play-Off rivals for a second successive Saturday when second-placed Walsall are the visitors to The Den on Boxing Day (3pm). 

Following the disappointment of last weekend's 3-0 home reverse to Gillingham, boss Neil Harris and his men are determined not to lose further ground on the top six. The Lions currently sit three points outside the Play-Off spots in 11th place, but with a game in hand. 

However Millwall go into action having lost four of their last six games in all competitions, including successive defeats at The Den at the hands of Wycombe Wanderers and most recently Gillingham.

Sean O'Driscoll, newly appointed Walsall boss, will take great heart from The Saddlers' form as they have won four and drawn one of their last six matches. On the road, Walsall have chalked up an impressive six victories, drawn three and lost just once in 11 matches - scoring 20 goals and conceding just nine. 

What the managers say

Neil Harris: "They have some very talented individual players who will likely be attracting the attention of other clubs and this is exactly the type of challenge we need on the back of what happened last weekend against Gillingham. 

"I am looking for a reaction and a 'stand up and be counted' mentality from the players."

Sean O'Driscoll: "Millwall is always a difficult place to go to. It is a Championship club in all but where they are in the League structure.

"It would be nice if the Boxing Day game was a little bit nearer, I think for everybody. You think Christmas fixture and you think why are you dragging us all the way down to London?

"I don't quite get that one but we've got two home games after that so on the back of a good performance and a good win against Port Vale I think we'll try and set our stall out to be especially hard to beat."

Team news

Millwall will be without the suspended Jordan Archer for the Boxing Day clash with Walsall.

Goalkeeper Archer was shown a straight red card in the first half of The Lions' 3-0 home defeat to Gillingham last weekend and will serve a one-game ban. David Forde, who came on as a sub in the Gillingham game, is set to make his first League One start since 18th August.

Manager Neil Harris could be tempted to freshen his starting line-up as Millwall aim to improve on a run of three defeats in the last four League One matches.

Youngster Fred Onyedinma played a starring role for the U21s in Tuesday night's 3-1 League Cup victory at Wolves, whilst Paris Cowan-Hall, recalled from his loan spell at Bristol Rovers on Monday, could also come into contention.

Tony Craig (knee) remains a long-term absentee.

Elsewhere Walsall boss Sean O'Driscoll could welcome back key duo Rico Henry and Tom Bradshaw for the Boxing Day trip to SE16.

Bradshaw, the club's top scorer with 12 goals this season, has not featured since being forced off with an ankle injury early during the Saddlers' 3-1 win over Shrewsbury on 1st December, but is back in contention after a scan revealed no serious damage to the joint.

Left-back Henry has been sidelined for the past two games and boss O'Driscoll could stick with Andy Taylor, who has been a dependable deputy in his absence.

Head-to-head

Saturday's game at The Den will be the 75th meeting between Millwall and Walsall in all competitions.

In their 74 previous encounters, The Lions have gained an impressive advantage over their rivals from the West Midlands, notching up 36 wins to The Saddlers 19, with 19 games ending all square. 

Last time we met 

The two teams last crossed swords back in the 2009/10 season when the League One clash on 6th March at the Bescot Stadium ended in a 2-2 draw.

Millwall, in a rich vein of form, were looking for a win to take them into the Play-Off positions. However, two early goals by Walsall from Richard Taundry and Alex Nicholls put a serious dent in their ambitions. Kenny Jackett's side gradually turned the tide in their favour and striker Steve Morison reduced the deficit to a single goal on the half-hour mark.  

The home team were reduced to ten men when defender Marc Richards was sent off for a rash challenge on Chris Hackett, his second bookable offence, but the travelling supporters had to wait until injury-time to see Millwall level the scores. What a goal it was too, with Alan Dunne's pile-driver not only earning The Lions a valuable and much-deserved point, but also going on to win the Goal of the Season award.  

Walsall: Gilmartin, Weston (Westlake, 46mins), Jones (Hughes, 76mins), Deeney, Nicholls (Byfield, 87mins), Taundry, O'Keefe, Vincent, Richards (s/o 64 mins), Gray, McDonald. Subs not used: Ince, Sansara, Bradley, Grigg.
Scorers: Nicholls (12mins), Taundry (26mins)

Millwall: Forde, Dunne, Craig, Abdou (Obika, 78mins), Robinson, Ward (Barron, 67mins), Schofield, Trotter, Harris (Batt, 59mins), Morison, Hackett. Subs not used: Sullivan, Smith, Frampton, Laird.
Scorers: Morison (29mins), Dunne (90+3mins) 

Coverage

Unable to make it to The Den on Boxing Day? Fear not as you can still keep up-to-date with every kick, header and tackle thanks to full match commentary on Lions PlayerHD. Tune in here.

You can also follow the action with regular updates via @MillwallFC, the club's official Twitter account.

Betting

Millwall are 6/4 favourites with Sky Bet to enjoy a winning Boxing Day when they host second-placed Walsall, who can be backed at 2/1 for all three points and 12/5 to leave The Den with a draw.
 
The Lions have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their last 11 meetings with Walsall although the Saddlers are win-less in four against The Lions. You can get 100/30 on Millwall to win and both teams scoring.

In the first goalscorer market, Lee Gregory and Steve Morison are 11/2 favourites while the Millwall duo can be backed at 2/1 to net anytime. All odds are subject to change after 5pm today.

For a comprehensive list of odds on the game visit Sky Bet.

Tweets by @MillwallFC
 

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