It was a game of two halves at Valley Parade last Sunday, but an attacking blitz followed by a defensive masterclass ensured that Millwall bring a 3-1 lead over Bradford City to The Den this Friday, courtesy of goals from Lee Gregory, Steve Morison and Joe Martin. With both clubs just 90 minutes away from a Wembley play-off final, the second leg is sure to be a tense and emotional affair. Bantams fan Ashley Porter takes up ‘The View From The Opposition’…
Name: Ashley Kenneth Porter
First Bradford game: Arsenal in the League Cup – I’m a glory hunter! My good friend Tim Penfold (@Bantamtim) brought me along, having pestered me for months to go to a game – and what a first game it was. It was my first ever football game for any team – and I was instantly hooked.
Greatest moment following Bradford: I was going to say Chelsea away, but I’m actually thinking of my first game as a full season ticket holder in August 2013, where we hammered Carlisle 4-0 and it could’ve been 10. Possibly the most entertaining and most dominant performance I’ve ever seen.
The first leg ended 3-1 to Millwall – what did you make of it?: It felt very tense and nervy early on and we were overwhelmed for the first half – we could’ve been even more out of the game as well, as McMahon could easily have been sent off [for a push in the face of Chris Taylor before the penalty]. Our defence wobbled – particularly at set pieces, which is unusual – and we missed the physical presence of Hanson in both boxes – if he was playing, I don’t think Morison gets the space for the second goal.
We also missed Reece Burke’s composure and calming influence in defence. However, in the second half, we were dominant and really should’ve scored, particularly through Morais – missing big chances has been a bit of a theme all season and it’s probably cost us automatic promotion. We didn’t take our big chances, Millwall did and that meant that they deserved the win.
Which Bradford players will the Lions have to watch out for as they attempt to overturn the deficit?: Tony McMahon offers nuisance value and an excellent right foot for set pieces. Reece Burke was a big miss – he makes the team much more composed defensively and means that we keep the ball when clearing our lines. Finally, if he’s fit, James Hanson has always scared the Millwall defence and could cause havoc.
Likewise, which Millwall players will Phil Parkinson’s side have to watch closely to stop the game getting away from them?: Lee Gregory was a thorn in our side on Sunday – irritating to play against and a big goal-scoring threat. Joe Martin’s set-pieces are also a worry – his free kick was possibly the best I’ve seen this season.
Finally, how do you see the game going? It will be played in front of a sold-out crowd – do you see your players standing firm or crumbling in the cauldron of The Den?: It could go either way – I think whoever gets the first goal will win. If we’re slow to start again then we’ll get punished, as Millwall are too good a side for us to get away with it, but if we start the second leg the way we played the second half of the first, we can get the first goal and ride the momentum forward.
We’ve got a good history of rising to big occasions and comeback wins.
Score Prediction: Millwall 1-4 Bradford City (after extra time – I’m being optimistic!)
Ashley’s Team Prediction*: Williams; Darby, McArdle, Burke, Meredith; McMahon, Cullen, Evans, Reid; Davies/Morais; Proctor
*Depends a bit on whether Hanson or Billy Clarke are fit, as this radically changes our options up front.
The League One play-off semi-final second leg between Millwall and Bradford City takes place at The Den on Friday, May 20th. Kick-off is at 7:45pm and the match is LIVE on Sky Sports.