It was a wasted journey north for Millwall last Saturday, as the League One clash with Oldham Athletic was postponed an hour and a half before kick-off, due to a waterlogged pitch. This weekend, the well-rested Lions are back at The Den for their final game before Christmas – a meeting with near neighbours and fellow promotion candidates, Gillingham. Brad Hewitt provides ‘The View From The Opposition’…
Name: Brad Hewitt
First Gillingham game: A home game against Ipswich, when we were in the Championship, is my first real memory – it was in 2005 and we drew 0-0. I’m sure I went to a few before that, but that’s the one I remember most!
Greatest moment following Gillingham: Winning promotion at Wembley and ending that barren away run of 30 odd games without a win at Oxford were both days I’ll never forget, but for me, it has to be the League 2 title-winning season. To see us turn teams over for fun at the start of the season and go away from home expecting at least a draw against everyone was a very unusual feeling! Winning promotion was good enough, but to see your team lift the title at home was amazing.
It’s been quite the season for the Gills so far – was the expectation in August to be chasing promotion?: The way (Justin) Edinburgh turned it around in the second half of last season made Gills fans optimistic. I think most, like myself, would have been happy with a top half finish and would be over the moon to be in the top 6 at Christmas. After such a strong start, it would be a shame if we couldn’t at least hold out for a play-off position. Other teams, however, are looking really good right now, especially Millwall and Peterborough – so it should be an interesting second half of the season!
In a relatively northern division, I would imagine that this is your biggest game of the season (apart from the possible promotion showdown on the final day, of course!) – I’m sure many fans will be making the journey for this one?: This will probably be our biggest away following of the season, unless there is something big still left to play for towards the end. I think so far we’ve sold over 1,000. It’s nice to finally play a team where we don’t have to travel for at least 2 hours to get to!
You lost your captain, Doug Loft, in last weekend’s 3-0 defeat to table-toppers, Burton Albion. Just how big of a miss will he be for Saturday’s game?: Doug hasn’t been the player any of us were expecting when we signed him from Port Vale, which has been disappointing. He has shown glimpses of what he can do, but unfortunately for us, not consistently enough. His performance on Saturday was very poor and the way he got sent off was embarrassing – not how your captain should be acting, really! We have some good players in the middle, including ex-Millwall Josh Wright to replace him, though.
How have you viewed Millwall’s season so far? They sit just outside the play-offs with the Christmas period coming into view…: I was very surprised at the way Millwall started the season! I, like many, had you down to be one of the favourites, so it was a bit of a surprise seeing you towards the bottom after a few games. I expect your better run to continue in the new year and you will probably be in the play-offs at least come the end of the season.
Who are Gillingham’s ‘ones to watch’ on Saturday?: The obvious one is Bradley Dack. He brings so much energy to the team, as well as goals and assists and he really has been our key man this year. If he’s kept quiet, then Millwall will have a much better chance. Josh Wright has been one of our most consistent players in the middle and the goalie, Stuart Nelson, has saved us on many occasions this season.
Likewise, are there any Millwall players that you will be wary of?: The obvious ones, really, like O’Brien and Morison; Gregory, too. If our defence can keep them quiet, then we’ll have a good chance to get a result. Certainly not Joe Martin – our game plan should just be ‘attack down the right’, going by his performances for us – although, I’ve heard he hasn’t been too bad for you! (what you’ve heard is correct, Brad!)
Finally, how do you see the game going?: The way we’ve been playing lately, I can’t see us winning. In the big games against Walsall, Coventry and Burton last week, we’ve bottled it. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to go…
Score Prediction: Millwall 2-0 Gillingham.
Brad’s Team Prediction: Nelson; Jackson, Egan, Ehmer, Garmston; Wright, Osadebe, Houghton; Dack; Donnelly, Samuel.
Millwall v Gillingham takes place at The Den this Saturday, December 19th. Kick-off is at 3pm.