After their 2-1 opening day win over Shrewsbury Town, the Lions turn their attention to Capital One Cup action on Tuesday night, as they host Football League new boys, Barnet. Chris Sheils features in this cup version of ‘The View From The Opposition’.
Name: Chris Sheils
Twitter Handle: @Chris_OSiadhail
Greatest moment following Barnet: For my birthday back in 1995, I was mascot for Barnet v Hartlepool United. We won 4-0, with a hat-trick from my hero, Dougie Freedman. An honourable mention must go to winning the league on the last day of last season versus Gateshead, when only a win would be good enough to avoid the dreaded play-offs.
Barnet won the Conference Premier last season and will be playing in League Two this season as a result – how do you see your team faring in the fourth tier?: I think we will be competitive, with a top half finish a realistic possibility. We spent nearly the entire season at the top of the Conference, with Rovers snapping at our heels for most of that time as well. It is widely acknowledged that the gap between the Conference and League Two has narrowed, so to lead the table for almost the entire season is testament to the quality of the team Martin Allen has built.
In the Conference, only two sides are promoted (one automatically), but League Two send four teams up at the end of the season. I don’t think we’ll be one of them, but I think it adds to the competitiveness of things – if you’re tenth or eleventh early in the new year, there’s still plenty to play for!
Likewise, what are your views on Millwall? Do you fancy them for immediate promotion back to the Championship?: I’m sure bouncing straight back is the aim, but take it from a Barnet fan: that isn’t easy! Just looking through the League One sides, the first thing that stands out is there are eight former Premier League teams in there, which hints at the level of competitiveness for promotion. Of the three sides that went down, yourselves and Wigan will surely be up there tussling for a quick return (Blackpool look set to continue in free fall), as well as sides like Sheffield United.
The Capital One Cup has paired two London rivals together – there must be quite a buzz around the club for this one, considering just a few months ago, this was non-league v the Championship? I assume there will be a healthy following travelling across London?: I hope so, although I note that Millwall are only opening two stands for it, so they don’t sound too optimistic! We have quite a small fan base, but the relative ease of travel from North London and for those working in the City should hopefully act as an incentive.
Who are Barnet’s ‘ones to watch’ on Tuesday night?: John Akinde is a real danger man – he makes ripping a defence wide open look effortless. In pre-season, he has picked up where he left off in the Conference, where he scored 31 league goals. He is a threat right from the get-go, scoring plenty of goals in the first 5-10 minutes of games.
Andy Yiadom is another one to watch. He was named England ‘C’ (the non-league side) Player of the Year and has recently moved from right back to right midfield, as well as being named vice-captain to Curtis Weston (yes, that Curtis Weston, Millwall fans) – he will go far.
How do you see the game going?: The defeat to Orient was tough to take. We played very well in the first half, but didn’t take an absolute sitter of a chance and were punished in the second half. We have quite a small squad, so I wonder how much rotation Martin Allen will be planning. Michael Nelson didn’t play on Saturday at the back, so could feature. Lively winger, Luke Gambin, is also a possibility on the left.
Score Prediction: Barnet to win 2-1. Akinde (2).
Chris’ Team Prediction: Stack; Hoyte, Nelson, Dembele, Johnson; Yiadom, Togwell, Weston (c), Gambin; Gash, Akinde.
The Capital One Cup First Round has paired London rivals Millwall and Barnet together. Kick-Off at the New Den on Tuesday night is at 7:45pm.