A 3-1 win at Bury last Saturday all but sealed Millwall’s place in the League One play-offs. This weekend, the last home game of the regular season takes place, as the Lions welcome Oldham Athletic to The Den. Dave Eames takes up ‘The View From The Opposition’…
Name: Dave Eames
First Oldham game: Chelsea 0-1 Oldham in 1993. We was running late for kick-off, so my Dad actually took me into and stood in the old Shed End – when Darren Beckford scored, he pushed down on my shoulders to stop me celebrating!
Greatest moment following Oldham: There are a lot I could go for, really. The obvious ones being the cup wins over Liverpool, Everton and Manchester City over the years and the great escape under Joe Royle. But, I think I’m going to go for the 5-4 home win over Peterborough United the other season.
I live down south in Bromley and I had a long journey the night before up to Oldham. After a night in the hotel, Oldham found themselves 0-3 down at half-time. To say I was pissed off was an understatement – I was fuming. Its never a cheap weekend when I get up to home games. Then, in the space of 20 minutes into the second half, we were 1-3 and 2-4 down and then in the last 10 minutes, we turned a 2-4 deficit into a 5-4 win with a 90th minute winner.
The nature of the fixture wasn’t exactly a glamorous tie, but the emotions and the feeling at the end, I haven’t felt since – and I know I can’t remember much of the night out in Oldham after that. A great game.
Oldham secured their League One survival with a 1-0 victory over already relegated Crewe Alexandra last Saturday – that must have been a relief? Was the expectation in August to just beat the drop?: Saturday’s feeling was of massive relief considering where we were at Christmas – bottom of League One. Back in August, like most Oldham fans, I had no expectations for the season. The board had gone for yet another cheap option in Darren Kelly, which this time was a bargain basement appointment.
The club had been linked with a return for Iain Dowie – which the fans would have been pleased with – but then the appointment of Kelly happened. The fans never took to him, crowds dropped and after around five games, he had gone and was replaced by David Dunn.
But now, we have a new feel good factor, thanks to the board bringing back John Sheridan. He has turned our fortunes around and secured safety with two games to go. We have gained more points under his leadership than some teams in the top six during that time and the crowds have come back. The players are fighting together and playing for the shirt – that’s all you can ask for. Next season, I think we will be a force in League One under him.
Barring a miracle, Millwall will be one of the four sides contesting the League One play-offs in May – how do you see them faring?: Being from south London, I have lots of mates and old school mates that support all the London teams. A Londoner never gets questioned on why he supports Manchester United, but I always get the ‘why Oldham?’
But, Millwall have turned their season round after spending the first few months adjusting to League One life – which can happen – and not having a good start at all. Now they are guaranteed their play-off place, I think they will definitely be in the final. If I had to choose a team to win the play-offs, it would be Millwall because of some of my mates, but I think Bradford City could be the ones to beat – Millwall v Bradford final.
Who are Oldham’s ‘ones to watch’ on Saturday?: Curtis Main. We got him on loan from Doncaster Rovers – they must be banging their heads against the wall. We are laughing our heads off – what a player he is. Young, hungry and strong, he has pace and has scored some massive goals to keep us in League One – and possibly relegate his parent club. I can’t believe they have loaned him to us.
Hopefully we break the bank to keep him and some of the others, because he will be a 20-goal a season striker given the full season.
Which Millwall players will the Latics need to be wary of?: Chris Taylor. To be fair, I don’t know too many Millwall players, so I am going for our old player Chris Taylor. He always put in a shift for us and is tricky and skilful. He comes up with the odd goal and as far as I know, is in good form at the moment for the Lions. Steve Morison is always a threat in front of goal with his experience, too.
Finally, how do you see the game going?: I am glad that we have secured our safety before coming to Millwall, because it would have been a massive test if we still needed the win. Of course, I want us to win, but with us safe and Millwall pretty much in the play-offs, I think it will be a more relaxed game. We are very solid away (usually!) of late so I am going to sit on the fence and say…
Score Prediction: Millwall 1-1 Oldham Athletic.
Dave’s Team Prediction: Coleman; Wilson, Gerrard, Edmundson; Dummigan, Kelly, Dieng, Croft, Forte; Main, Poleon.
Millwall v Oldham Athletic takes place at The Den on Saturday, April 30th. Kick-off is at 3pm.