Millwall steadied the ship last Saturday at Scunthorpe after two home defeats, battling to a goalless draw in a game that saw the woodwork struck four times and a penalty missed. Neil Harris’ Lions are back at The Den this Saturday and will look to put the early-season home form behind them, as they take on last-seasons League One play-off semi-finalists, Chesterfield. The Spireites’ match-day PA announcer of 27 years, Howard Borrell, gives us his views ahead of the game…
Name: Howard Borrell
First Chesterfield game: Home to Wrexham in the 1968/69 season – a 1-1 draw.
Greatest moment following Chesterfield: It has to be the equaliser in the FA Cup Semi-Final v Middlesbrough at Old Trafford, when we drew 3-3. Earlier, we were denied a perfectly good goal that would have given us a 3-1 lead by referee, David Elleray. Television replays subsequently proved the goal should have stood.
How have Chesterfield begun the season? After play-off heartbreak last season, what is the aim for this campaign under new management?: We’ve started better than most fans expected, after several key players left – Darikwa and Clucas for big money – and, when the season started, we had only one replacement. Most, at that point, would have happily settled for mid-table.
We conceded early in the opener against Barnsley, but bounced back well to win 3-1, thanks to a strong squad performance, with some of the fringe players contributing well. We stuttered a little and lost at Carlisle in the League Cup and at Bramall Lane [v Sheffield United], then turned in a stunning performance at Shrewsbury, with new signing Angel bringing much needed solidity.
The signing earlier in the week of West Brom defender, Liam O’Neil, should add to our defensive strength and many fans now see getting close to a play-off spot a genuine possibility.
How do you see Millwall faring in their first season back in League One?: With 18 players leaving, I – and I suspect many others – thought you’d find it hard to adapt.
Your start implies a lack of consistency – undefeated away and a loss in all 3 home games. Whatever the result is against Chesterfield, I think Neil Harris is savvy enough to turn things around. Early season form is rarely an accurate barometer, but I see a comfortable mid-table place as likely.
Who are Chesterfield’s ‘ones to watch’ this Saturday? I see you have signed former Lions midfielder, Angel Martinez – what do you hope he can bring to the side?: Angel has already brought a better balance to the side and ensured that Sam Morsy now has support in the middle of the park; his presence enables Morsy to make more forward runs – he already has two strikes to his credit this season. Angel plays a less energetic role but looks for openings and the opportunity to provide a telling pass.
Sylvan Ebanks-Blake is also a class act in the penalty area. We need to learn to provide consistent service to him; if we get the quality right, I think he’ll do the rest.
Armand Gnanduillet regularly comes off the bench – expect the unexpected!
Which Millwall players will you be wary of this weekend?: Obviously with so many changes and with Millwall new to the division, I’m not as familiar as I may have been; however, I see midfielder Ed Upson as being crucial. He had a great spell at Yeovil when they won promotion to the Championship and he has been a regular for Millwall since his January arrival. The newcomers will see him as someone to offer guidance.
I also see youngster Fred Onyedinma as a threat. Wycombe fans gave him good reviews during his loan period and he’s bagged two to date this term. Of course, Steve Morison, back for his third spell, is always a handful.
How do you see the game going?: Rochdale did a job on us last week after stifling our creativity. At
the New Den, I expect we’ll be looking to stay solid and not concede early – as we did in our first three games – and then build. Get to the interval level and we’ll look to push on.
Score Prediction: Millwall 1-1 Chesterfield.
Howard’s Team Prediction: Lee; O’Neil, Hird, Evatt, Jones; Ariyibi, Morsy, Angel; O’Shea, Novak, Ebanks-Blake.
Millwall v Chesterfield takes place at The Den on Saturday, August 29th. Kick-off is at 3pm.