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Match Previews

Preview | Millwall v Oxford United

13 January 2016

All you need to know about Thursday night's game

Millwall host League Two high-flyers Oxford United in the JPT Southern Area Final first leg at The Den on Thursday night hoping to take a big step towards an incredible fourth Wembley appearance in just eight years.

The Lions have played at the national stadium three times since 2009, first losing 3-2 in the League One Play-Off Final to Scunthorpe, then recording a memorable 1-0 win over Swindon 12 months later to secure promotion to the Championship. In 2013 Millwall met Wigan in an FA Cup Semi Final, also at the national stadium.

Oxford, themselves Milk Cup winners at Wembley in 1986, are on a phenomenal run of form currently, with just one defeat in their last 16 matches.

Michael Appleton's side are third in League Two, four points behind leaders Plymouth Argyle, but with a game in hand. Confidence in sky high in the U's camp following their sensational FA Cup giant-killing, a 3-2 victory over Premier League outfit Swansea City last Sunday, although The Lions are in upbeat mood too having secured a late winner at Oldham last Saturday.

What the managers say

Neil Harris: "I hope history repeats itself. It is a competition we have taken seriously this for various different reasons leading up to each game.

"Peterborough at home gave us our first home victory of the season and the importance of the games have just sort of kicked on from there.

"This is no different, we are playing an extremely good Oxford side with excellent individual players and we have to be mindful of that. It's going to be very competitive, very close over the two legs and we have to remember that it is 180 minutes of football in this tie.

"The boys are looking forward to this game, we all have been since we won at Southend in the last round, and come Thursday night we are expecting a really good Cup-tie and a cracking atmosphere at The Den." Hear more from Chopper here.

Michael Appleton: "The media attention the club has had over the last ten days has been fantastic. We want that to continue and the only way you do that is by continuing the success on the pitch.

"We will be more than ready to go again, there's no doubt about it. The game in itself – it's a first leg of an opportunity to go and play at Wembley. The added value of it being on TV as well gives it a bit of extra spice. 

"The players are full of confidence at the minute, walking ten-feet tall, and rightly so. It's a bonus that the first game is at Millwall because obviously we will then be at home and know what we have to do.

"I think we are the underdogs; we are the only League Two side left in the competition, but the lads are feeling good about themselves and have acquitted themselves well. We will go into the game confident, but we won't be reckless as we are aware that there are two games to make sure that we do this job." Hear more from Appleton here.

Team news

Lions fans look set to see new signing Jed Wallace make his home debut against Oxford, having made an impressive first start for Millwall in last Saturday's 2-1 win at Oldham after joining on loan from Wolves the previous day.

Wallace, who had a hand in Lee Gregory's opening goal, could keep his place in a team unlikely to show many changes to the side that started against The Latics.

Fellow wide man Shane Ferguson will also be hoping to feature, having extended his loan spell from Newcastle United by a further couple of weeks on Tuesday.

Carlos Edwards (hamstring) is ruled out whilst Tony Craig remains a long-term absentee.

Oxford United manager Michael Appleton has played his selection cards very close to his chest, hinting that he has a nucleus of 'eight or nine' players who featured in Sunday's FA Cup victory over Swansea City who will play against The Lions with the remaining places possibly open for change.

Head-to-head

Thursday's game at The Den will be the 50th meeting between Millwall and Oxford United in all competitions.  

The Lions have enjoyed 21 victories to U's 16 overall, and although 12 matches have finished all square, only one of those draws has come in the past seven encounters. This was a six-goal FA Cup thriller at The Den on 6th January 1996 when Alex Rae (2) and Chris Malkin were on target for Millwall, and a certain Paul Moody on the scoresheet for the visitors, for whom Bobby Ford and Stuart Massey also scored to secure a replay. In five of the last six games only one side has managed to score, with Oxford securing two wins and The Lions four, including a memorable double during the title-winning 2000/1 campaign (2-0 away and 5-0 at The Den).

Last time we met

A 57th-minute goal from Oxford's Steve Basham was enough to settle this keenly contested Carling Cup tie played in front of a 4,781 Den crowd.

Basham let fly with a low drive that keeper Tony Warner got a hand to, only for the ball to loop up over his head and into the net.

It was a frustrating night for The Lions, who were missing the bite of Dennis Wise in midfield and flair of winger Paul Ifill, both of whom were ruled out through injury.

Millwall: Warner, Lawrence, Nethercott, Juan, Craig (Phillips, 83mins), Ward, Roberts, Hearn (Dunne, 88mins), Cahill, Harris, Whelan (Braniff, 46mins). Subs not used: Gueret, Ryan.

Oxford United: Woodman, McNiven, Crosby, Robinson, Bound, Ashton, Townsley, Whitehead, Brown, Wandless, Basham (Oldfield, 87mins). Subs not used: Lovegrove, Hackett, Rawle, Omoyinmi.

Route to the Area Final

Peterborough United (H)  1-0 (Williams)
Northampton Town (H) 2-0 (O'Brien, Gregory)
Plymouth Argyle (A) 5-3 (Gregory 4, O'Brien)
Southend United (A) 2-0 (Morison, Williams)  

Coverage

Unable to make it to The Den on Thursday night? 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. The game is also being televised live on Sky.

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

Betting

Sky Bet make Millwall the narrow 23/20 favourites for victory at The Den, with The U's 23/10 and the draw is on offer at 12/5. 

This is the first meeting between the two sides since the 2003/4 season, and while Oxford may have run out 1-0 victors in the Carling Cup tie at The Den in August 2003, The Lions saved their best Cup form for the FA Cup, and went on to reach the final in May 2004 where they faced Manchester United at the Millennium Stadium.

Sky Bet have some great odds for first and last goalscorers such as Lee Gregory 11/2, Steve Morison 11/2, Jed Wallace 17/2, Mark Beevers 16/1 and Aiden O'Brien 13/2.

If you fancy any of the above players to score at any time their odds are: Gregory and Morison 15/8 each, Wallace 11/4, Beevers 5/1 and O'Brien 2/1.

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


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