Millwall resume their travels this Tuesday night with a third trip down the M4 so far this season – this time to take on Lee Johnson’s Bristol City. The Lions head to Ashton Gate following their ninth League draw of the season against Nottingham Forest, sitting 15th in the Sky Bet Championship. The Robins rank in fourth as they hunt down a first-ever promotion to the Premier League, with wins in their last two outings.
Bristol City have been a Championship outfit since their title-winning promotion campaign of 2014/15, and prior to 2013 spent six seasons in the division – even reaching the Play-Off Final in 2008 against Hull City. Since their glory season of promotion – in which they also lifted the Football League Trophy – The Robins have gradually improved on their League position each season, ranking eighth last term. Prior to the First Division’s rebranding as the Premier League, City finished in their record-high position of second in the top flight in 1907, and last enjoyed promotion from the equivalent of the Championship in 1976 – a year in which the ‘whole squad’ took the Player of the Season award. Bristol City reached the 1909 FA Cup Final where they were narrowly beaten by Manchester United, and have won three Football League Trophy titles.
Over the course of the summer, Johnson has brought in a number of players to strengthen his squad and attempt to move forward to the next level. Daniel Bentley has come in between the sticks, with Han-Noah Massengo and Ashley Williams providing youth and experience respectively. Tomas Kalas, Kasey Palmer and Sammie Szmodics also arrived at Ashton Gate. As with most Championship clubs, a considerable number of players departed in the summer, including The Lions’ own Frank Fielding, who spent six years in Somerset. Adam Webster and Lloyd Kelly left for the Premier League, whilst Marlon Pack, Eros Pisano and Mo Eisa were among further departures.
Despite Lee Johnson’s relative youth as a manager at 38, the Robins boss possesses significant League management experience, involved in senior coaching since 2013. Fathered by Gary Johnson, Bristol City’s boss between 2005 and 2010 where he signed his son as a player, Lee first took over as manager of Oldham Athletic at the age of 31, following hanging up his boots at Kilmarnock. After guiding an upturn in The Latics’ form, Johnson moved on to Barnsley where he would spend a year, masterminding the majority of the club’s run to winning the Football League Trophy. He then arrived at Ashton Gate in February 2016, and is now currently the longest-serving manager in the Championship, over a year ahead of Blackburn Rovers’ Tony Mowbray. Johnson was behind the club’s memorable Carabao Cup run of 2017/18, reaching the Semi-Finals and defeating Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United in the process.
Millwall and Bristol City have met on 96 previous occasions, mainly in the second and third tiers. The Lions have won 30 contests to The Robins’ 35 victories, including a 2-1 City win at The Den late last season. Before that result, Millwall were five unbeaten against Tuesday’s opponents, with the last win coming in April 2018 – as Jed Wallace and Steve Morison netted for a 2-0 scoreline.