Millwall v Birmingham
Wednesday February 26, 19:45
Millwall lose ground on the top-six
Millwall lost vital ground on the Championship's top-six as they suffered only their second defeat in 10 away games on Saturday, going down 1-0 at relegation-threatened Wigan. An own goal from Lions defender Shaun Hutchinson proved decisive at the DW Stadium as he turned Anthony Pilkington's cross into his own 12 minutes into the second half.
After an impressive victory at Preston previously, Millwall's loss sees the Bermondsey boys slip seven points adrift of the play-off places. Gary Rowett's group managed to get into a number of promising positions but failed to find a finishing touch; Tom Bradshaw had no excuse when he poked wide when Wigan keeper David Marshall dropped Jed Wallace's cross.
Post-match Rowett suggested Millwall failed to match Wigan's intensity, saying, "The game meant an awful lot to Wigan and I didn't feel we quite matched their desperation to get a result. I wasn't sure we worked hard enough on the attacking side of our game, I didn't feel we stepped in with as much drive and pace and zip. We just looked a little bit flat."
Birmingham extend unbeaten streak
Scott Hogan's late leveller against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday extended Birmingham's unbeaten streak to 10 games across all competitions in a pulsating clash at St Andrew's. A Jacob Murphy own goal and Lukas Jutkiewicz's 13th of the season twice put in-form Blues ahead, before Hogan's fourth goal in five earned a deserved point from a losing position.
City have now avoided defeat since New Year's Day, although an outside chances of a push at the play-offs appear unlikely with the gap from Birmingham to the top-six stretching to 11 points at the weekend. With only 12 games to go, Blues are going to have to average a point more per-match than the team currently in sixth to pinch a place in the play-offs.
Post-match, head coach Pep Clotet was pleased with his team's character, saying, "I think in the second half the game was a bit more even but I thought first half we started very well, got ahead and we created more chances. Then the game was turned and we were chasing for a result. I'm very happy that the resilience was there, and the passion to try to get a point that keeps us on an unbeaten run, which is massive for us."
Odds suggest there's little to choose between mid-table pair
Matches between Millwall and Birmingham have been keenly contested in recent seasons with away teams often enjoying the edge. Indeed, only two of the previous 12 league tussles over the past decade have been won by the home side with Blues taking maximum points in four of their past five unbeaten trips to Bermondsey since 2011 (W4-D1-L0).
Millwall 2.285/4 made remarkable initial progress under Gary Rowett's watch, although the Lions have regressed to the mean of late, earning only two victories in their past eight Championship outings (W2-D3-L3). However, the hosts remain one of the division's strongest suits at The Den (W8-D5-L3), delivering W6-D4-L2 here since Neil Harris left.
Birmingham 3.7011/4 arrive unbeaten in eight league encounters (W4-D4-L0), taking 10 points from a possible 12 on their recent travels. Blues have suffered a solitary reverse on the road since November's international break (W4-D4-L1) and only five clubs - all based inside the top-seven - boast more away wins in 2019/20 than Pep Clotet's troops (6) this term.
Millwall have fired blanks in half of their last eight games but Gary Rowett's hosts have only once failed to score at The Den this season - in blustery conditions at home to table-topping West Brom - and the Lions should be well capable of getting on the scoresheet again here.
Birmingham have bagged in all bar two of their past 18 Championship contests, as well as in eight of their most recent 10 away days, suggesting there's value in the 2.001/1 quotes on Both Teams To Score when the two teams lock horns on Wednesday. BTTS has banked in 17 of Blues' past 21 league fixtures.