Millwall v Swansea
Saturday April 10, 12:30
Millwall look to finish with a flourish
Millwall manager Gary Rowett admitted he's desperate his side's season doesn't' "peter out" after overseeing the Lions stubbornly refuse to give up on the race for the play-off positions on Easter Monday. The Bermondsey boys picked up a 2-1 triumph at Stoke to stay within eight points of the top-six with just six Championship games remaining.
Millwall have looked almost out of that race in recent weeks, and Rowett was asked after the game if it has been difficult to keep driving his team forward. He said, "Not very difficult at all. We are very determined to see if we can keep going" and piled praise on his players, adding, "I thought we controlled the game second half and we were the better side."
Murray Wallace put the Lions in front in the 35th minute before Jacob Brown equalised for the hosts four minutes before the break. Mason Bennett scored a second-half winner, although Rowett's decision to bring on Maikel Kieftenbeld for Kenneth Zohore at half-time to strengthen midfield proved to be a masterstroke with Millwall impressing thereafter.
Swansea fail to fire, again
Steve Cooper insists Swansea will not give up on automatic promotion or "hide away" from criticism as they look to recover from their current slump. Four straight defeats - and four games without a goal - have left the Swans 10 points adrift of the Championship's top two with seven games left this season. Even a play-off place is no longer assured.
Easter Monday's home defeat against Preston was the second in the space of three days in which the Welsh high-flyers had conceded an injury-time winner. However, the manner of the performance was as concerning as the result, with the Swans failing to register a single shot on-target at home against a North End side who started the game 17th in the table.
The Swansea boss said, "You've got to get through the rocky periods, and are we going through a difficult period? Absolutely. I'm not going to hide away from any of this - we're not keeping clean sheets, we're not scoring and we're not winning. We've got to stand up and be counted and tackle it head-on. We're not going to give up."
Swans unappealing favourites
Millwall have tabled a solitary triumph in seven league meetings with Swansea since the start of 2010/11 (W1-D2-L4) but the Lions boast a reasonable record since the two teams crossed swords over the past two decades, posting W4-D5-L6 in head-to-head match-ups. The hosts have failed to succeed in each of their last four welcoming the Swans (W0-D2-L2).
Millwall 2.8615/8 manager Gary Rowett's position appeared under threat during the winter but the draw specialists have started to turn some of their tight tussles into triumphs to move into the Championship's top half. The Lions have shared the spoils in 16 of their 40 outings, as only the top three have suffered fewer defeats than the hosts' tally of 10 this term.
Swansea 2.6613/8 have suffered four successive losses for the first time under Steve Cooper's watch to relinquish their role in the automatic promotion places. There have been signs of fatigue in the Swans camp but the Welsh outfit have looked toothless in attack since mid-February with the team's rock-solid backline also faltering as we head into the final furlong.
Keep Lions onside
Goals have been a relative rarity when Millwall have been involved. The Lions' tight-nit ship has seen just 1.85 goals per-game on average across the club's 40 league fixtures thus far as 27 (68%) of those tussles paid out for Under 2.5 Goals 1.574/7 backers. Meanwhile, at The Den those figures reduce to 1.75 goals per-game and 16/20 (80%) Unders winners.
It's a similar story when Swansea have been involved. Games involving the Welsh club average only 1.95 goals with a huge 29/39 (74%) producing a maximum of two goals. Away from the Liberty Stadium, 14 of the 19 Swans' fixtures have featured fewer than three goals with Steve Cooper's men seeing BTTS 1.9520/21 bank on only eight occasions.
With another tight encounter forecast, I'm keen to oppose goals whilst keeping Millwall onside. Garry Rowett's men have returned an impressive W2-D8-L1 when taking on teams above them - putting the 3.1085/40 draw into contention.
Nevertheless, I'll play a more pragmatic approach by taking Millwall Double Chance and Under 3.5 Goals at 1.738/11. It's proven profitable in all bar one of the 30 games in which the Lions have avoided defeat this season.