High-flying Nottingham Forest travel to rejuvenated Millwall on Friday night. Mark O'Haire previews the Championship contest...
"The Tricky Trees have been beaten only once on the road under the French boss (W4-D5-L1), shipping fewer than two goals in nine of those 10 games as guests"
Millwall v Nottingham Forest
Friday December 6, 19:45
Millwall looking up
Upwardly-mobile Millwall picked up a well-earned point at Birmingham last weekend to continue their fine start to life under Gary Rowett. Shaun Williams' excellent long-range opener gave the Lions a deserved lead at St Andrew's before the visitors conceded an equaliser 11 minutes from time to only earn a share the spoils in the Second City.
Millwall had enjoyed the game's better chances with home keeper Connal Trueman making fine first-half saves to thwart Matt Smith's header and Ben Thompson's volley. Jed Wallace was instrumental for the Lions - his run set up Williams' opener and he twice sat up inviting crosses that Smith could have converted as the capital club pushed forward.
Despite failing to earn top honours, Millwall have lost just once in six since Rowett's arrival in October, settling into a cushy mid-table position. However, the new boss is having to contend with a series of injuries; Shaun Hutchinson remains a major doubt whilst Shane Ferguson, Ryan Leonard, Williams and Wallace will all be assessed before Friday night's fixture.
Nottingham Forest suffer rare reverse
Nottingham Forest lost ground on the automatic promotion places last Saturday as the Reds fell to a surprise 1-0 home defeat to bogey team Cardiff. The Tricky Trees started brightly at the City Ground, with Joao Carvalho firing their best chance over the bar, before falling behind against the run of play to the Bluebirds first chance of the contest.
That opening goal was the first Forest had conceded in four matches and Sabri Lamouchi's men doubled their efforts in search of an equaliser. The Reds put Cardiff under the cosh for long spells but, for all their neat build-up and possession, managed to land just one shot on-target from 31 efforts, as their lack of cutting edge in the final-third was all too apparent.
Post-match Lamouchi was frustrated by the outcome of the encounter, saying: "The numbers, they are clear. But we can do no more than that. We can only try to hit the target. We did create big chances. Normally we are very efficient with the goals we score from the number of chances we create. This time it was the opposite." Few changes to the XI are expected.
Reds' ready for robust Lions
Millwall were 1-0 winners when entertaining Nottingham Forest at The Den last season. That victory was one of six triumphs for the Lions in the duo's last 11 league meetings in South London since 2002 (W6-D4-L1) with the hosts also silencing the Reds on eight occasions in that 11-game sample, including each of the most recent three clashes.
Millwall [2.60] have made The Den a notoriously difficult venue to visit over the past 18 months. The Lions have returned W12-D12-L8 in Championship outings since the start of last season as their rugged approach continues to pay dividend. In fact, almost 60% of the team's average Expected Goals (xG) output is generated from set-piece situations.
Nottingham Forest's [3.05] reverse last time out was only the club's fourth league defeat since Sabri Lamouchi arrived. The Tricky Trees have been beaten only once on the road under the French boss (W4-D5-L1), shipping fewer than two goals in nine of those 10 games as guests. Only Leeds and Brentford are conceding a lower xG from open play figure.
Neither Millwall nor Nottingham Forest have been prolific operators in the goals markets this season. The two teams have seen Under 2.5 Goals (1.63) land in 20/37 (59%) combined contests with a goals per-game average standing out a rather meek 2.32. However, there's little value in opposing goals at the odds on offer.
In a tight betting tussle, it may pay to support the more savvy visitors in a match shorn of end-to-end goalmouth action. We can back Nottingham Forest in the Double Chance market alongside Under 3.5 Goals for a generous even-money with Betfair Sportsbook's Same Game Multi market.
Mark's 2019/20 Profit/Loss
Staked: 66.00 pts
Returned: 84.65 pts
P/L: +18.65 pts