A lacklustre Millwall were held to a goalless draw by Colchester United last Saturday, as the season ticked into its last full month. This weekend, the Lions’ opponents from the opening day, Shrewsbury Town, visit The Den. Stuart Holloway takes up ‘The View From The Opposition’…
Name: Stuart Holloway
First Shrewsbury game: Shrewsbury 2-1 Accrington Stanley on 21st April, 2007, in the last season at Gay Meadow. I remember quite a few things about the game – I know Accrington took the lead and I can’t remember who scored our equaliser, but I know fans favourite Ben Davies scored our winner and took his shirt off in celebration. In the last few minutes, a Accrington shot hit both posts, but luckily fell into our goalkeeper’s hands!
Greatest moment following Shrewsbury: It’s hard to say either promotion to League One, as both the 2012 and 2015 promotion seasons were expected. I’ve got to say my greatest moment is beating Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup Fourth Round this season, as it was such a dramatic end to a very competitive game and set up a Fifth Round draw with Manchester United.
We were losing 2-1, but we turned it around very late on with Shaun Whalley’s driven shot in the 88th minute and Jack Grimmer’s header in the 97th minute won us the game. I was behind the goal and I have never felt such jubilation at a football game when the ball hit the back of the net. Everyone just went crazy – I will never forget that day.
Five points above relegation with seven games remaining – is that where you expected the Shrews to be at this point? Do you think you will stay up and if so, would that be an achievement, given your promotion last year?: I was expecting us to do a bit better than we are at the moment, but not a great deal better – I expected us to be near the top of the bottom half, if you like. I think we will stay up, as I believe we have a good team with good foundations and despite the defeat to Wigan, we still have good momentum behind us after being unbeaten in 9 league games before hand and there isn’t many in the starting line-up I want to see the back of.
I can’t really say that staying up would be an achievement, as we have the ninth highest budget in this division according to Phil Brown, so we should be doing better.
At the other end of the table, the Lions are chasing the play-off’s – how do you see their season ending?: I’m not surprised that Millwall have turned it around after overall a bad first 10 games or so. I’d be very surprised if Wigan or Burton are caught for the automatic places, so I would predict that they will be in the play-offs at the end of the season, but Walsall will be the team to beat in them.
Who are Shrewsbury’s ‘ones to watch’ on Saturday?: Most definitely Sullay Kaikai, on loan from Crystal Palace. He has scored 7 goals in the last 6 games since re-joining us on loan. He is quite obviously destined to play a lot of games at a higher level and there was even a bit of talk about an England Under-21 call up for the recent internationals.
Also, Shaun Whalley has been a surprise package for us this season, as Luton fans didn’t seem too fussed that he had left. Since having a good run out in the team he has been fantastic and his pace is a big threat to defenders, but at the same time always seems to find himself in good positions to score. He’s due a goal now, so I feel one isn’t too far away.
Which Millwall players do you think the Shrews will need to worry about?: Judging on the first game of the season and highlights from the goal show, Lee Gregory and Steve Morison – especially as both our first choice central defenders are suspended. There’s a good amount of experience and proven goal-scorers there.
You have former Lion Zak Whitbread among your ranks – how has he been getting on?: Zak is a very solid defender who has exceeded expectations since signing a short term contract, which got extended until the end of the season. I am very much hoping we can keep hold of him in the summer, but it will be a shame for him and us that he won’t be able to play against his former club through suspension.
Finally, how do you see the game going?: Well the stats are that we have only lost 1 of the last 12 away games, which is an unbelievable stat for a team in our position. I feel we have potential to go anywhere in this division and get a win, as we sure know how to pull a rabbit out of the hat amongst the odds as we seem to play without fear.
After our big losses this season (Chesterfield and Barnsley) we have followed these up with unexpected away wins against Cardiff and Burton, so I hope this continues. I think…
Score Prediction: Millwall 1-2 Shrewsbury Town, with Whalley scoring the winner.
Stuart’s Team Prediction: Leutwiler; Grimmer, Grandison, Smith, Brown; Whalley, Ogogo, Black, Wellens, Kaikai; Mangan.
Millwall v Shrewsbury Town takes place at The Den on Saturday, April 9th. Kick-off is at 3pm.