Nottingham Forest and Millwall lock horns at the City Ground on Friday night with the duo desperate to secure a place in the Championship's play-off positions. Mark O'Haire analyses the odds...
"Since deservedly beating Championship favourites Leeds at the start of July, Nottingham Forest have earned six points from a possible 15 (W1-D3-L1)"
Nottingham Forest v Millwall
Friday March 6, 19:45
Nottingham Forest frustrated on Teesside
Nottingham Forest boss Sabri Lamouchi was left frustrated and "upset" after his team put in a "very bad" performance against Middlesbrough on Monday night. It took a late goal from top scorer Lewis Grabban to rescue a 2-2 draw against struggling Boro at the Riverside Stadium, on a night when the promotion-chasing Reds were well below-par.
After Ryan Yates had opened the scoring for the visitors in the first half, the hosts turned the game on its head with two quick goals before the break. Forest had been looking to make it successive away wins but a point leaves the Tricky Tress eight points behind second-placed Leeds heading into the final 10 games of the Championship campaign.
"We started better than them, but we never made the difference with our quality," said Lamouchi. He added, "We made a lot of mistakes - the simple things, positioning, technically. I don't know what was wrong." Forest bid to get back on the winning trail on Friday night but the hosts are set to be without influential pair Thiago Silva and Samba Sow.
Millwall lacking invention and inspiration
Gary Rowett admitted his Millwall side were once again lacking that bit of individual brilliance to find a decisive breakthrough against Bristol City last weekend. The Lions were trailing after only 10 minutes at The Den and were once again reliant upon a dead-ball situation to level proceedings when Matt Smith converted Connor Mahoney's corner.
Millwall's tempo and drive in the second period was a vast improvement as the hosts went more direct. The Lions' intensity waned as the half went on, however, and attacking spark was sadly lacking in the final-third. Even so, Rowett appreciated the efforts, saying, "In the second half I couldn't ask for a lot more from the players. I thought they gave everything."
The Bermondsey boys had to settle for a share of the spoils with Rowett suggesting, "Set-pieces are our most likely source of scoring - and that's the hard bit, because you can't score every game with a set-play. We got into some good areas and tried to bludgeon the ball into the net. But we couldn't find that little bit of finesse, when it was required."
Reds fair favourites
Nottingham Forest haven't always enjoyed recent meetings with Millwall at Championship level. The Reds have tabled a solitary success in five head-to-heads (W1-D1-L3) at the City Ground since 2012/13 with last season's encounter ending in an enjoyable 2-2 draw here.
Since deservedly beating Championship favourites Leeds at the start of July, Nottingham Forest [2.18] have earned six points from a possible 15 (W1-D3-L1) to lose ground on the automatic promotion race. The Tricky Trees have fired consecutive blanks at the City Ground and have tended to toil when posed with deep-lying visiting defences.
Millwall [3.65] have seen their own top-six challenge falter over the past eight weeks. The Lions have registered a single Championship victory in eight (W1-D4-L3) as Gary Rowett's outfit have failed to even score in four of their most recent seven outings. Nevertheless, the guests do boast a respectable W3-D1-L3 return when travelling to the current top-10.
Only four Championship grounds have featured fewer goals per-game than Nottingham Forest's average tally of 2.12. Eleven (65%) of those 17 fixtures have failed to feature three goals or more with 10 (59%) delivering in the Both Teams To Score 'No' column this term.
Millwall's 18 away days have averaged a similarly paltry goal-tally - just 2.11 - and the Lions have paid out for Under 2.5 Goals backers in 13/18 (72%) of road trips thus far. The visitors have only gotten on the scoresheet themselves in one of their five games as guests in 2020 with four of those showdowns also rewarding Both Teams To Score 'No' punters.
Considering Forest's struggles in breaking down low block defences, plus Millwall's own creativity issues, it makes sense to oppose goals on Friday night. With that in mind, opposing Both Teams To Score at 17/20 looks the best value option.
Mark's 2019/20 Profit/Loss
Staked: 124.00 pts
Returned: 144.54 pts
P/L: +20.54 pts