Swindon v Millwall Preview

Saturday 8th May 2010 sees the most important Swindon Town game since the League One Play-Off Semi-Final 2nd Leg versus Brighton back in 2004. Town face Millwall at The New Den in what could be, depending on the Leeds result, a winner takes it all encounter. The potential prize being a place in the Championship in 2010/2011.

See The Washbag – League One Promotion Download for a review of all League One promotion permutations.

Back in October, the corresponding fixture finished 1-1 at the County Ground. Town took the early lead through a Scott Cuthbert header, but Millwall got a late equaliser through Danny Schofield. It was perhaps a match best remembered for the sending off of Jonathan Douglas. The red card followed a tackle on Abdou, who initially writhed in agony but quickly took to his feet when Douglas was dismissed for a cautionable tackle.

With all the hype and optimism about the game, I’m sorry to start on a bit of a downer. To say our past league record against Millwall is poor is an understatement.

Our league record reads; Played 83, Won 24, Drawn 25, Lost 34, For 92 and Against 111.

Matches away from home at The Den / New Den isn’t pleasant reading at all with; Played 41, Won 4, Drawn 15, Lost 22, For 36 and Against 76. Town have only won once at Millwall in 45 years. Importantly this victory came in a recent game, a 2-1 win in September 2007 with goals from Cox and Ifil.

To be honest, statistics are largely irrelevant in these crunch end of season contests. Both teams won’t need motivating and will be buoyed on by the sell out crowd, including 2,200 Swindon fans who will be tucked away in the upper tier of the North Stand for reasons you don’t need me to explain. The crowd will play a big part in the game. Both sets of fans will undoubtedly heap massive pressure on the teams should news of Leeds losing against Rovers reach the ground.

In a recent interview Wilson revealed his concerns of an inexperienced and young squad who find themselves in a new situation battling for promotion. Our squad need to realise they can deal with the pressure as they are not alone. The Millwall players will be equally pressured. Neither team can afford to sit back as both ideally need a win, especially Swindon.

The key to the game will be whether Town score first. We have yet to win this season when we’ve conceded first. I can’t put my finger on exactly why we have failed to come back in games to take the win. Perhaps we seem to thrive on the impetus given by the early goal, also it appears we find the opposition very hard to breakdown when they sit back and defend as shown in the recent Exeter and Walsall games, as the opposition have begun to do their research on our style of play.

So, who would have imagined it back in August. Swindon v Millwall on the final day would turn out to be such a crucial game with permutations for both teams. Even a week or two ago when it looked certain Leeds or Millwall had pulled away from the chasing pack, I wanted, but couldn’t see it would go down to the last game. Now five teams are potentially in with a shout of reaching the second automatic promotion place.

As I see your pushing me for a prediction… I now see Town winning 2-1 at Millwall, Douglas to get his first of the season and the winner (I’m so sentimental!). But will that be enough to send us up?

So then… as for the other games:

Leeds United  v Bristol Rovers – Rovers have said all week they want to upset the party. If Rovers can score 7 goals without reply against Swindon and Swindon have beaten Leeds 6 nil on aggregate this season…. Rovers are clearly the better team and will score plenty and win on Saturday at Elland Road. Although… Rovers did get beat 4-0 at home back in late October, so my argument is shit 🙂 I want Rovers to win or at least hold Leeds to a draw, I’m trying to find reasons… but all I can do as cross my fingers and toes and hope Paul doesn’t ruin the family name even further with his team caving in and failing to turn up and give Leeds a real contest.

Oldham v Charlton – Oldham are safe from relegation and today sacked Dave Penney. I can only see Charlton winning, say 3-1.

Exeter v Huddersfield – Exeter are 20th and share 48 points with Tranmere. It would take a bizarre, but not unheard of, set of results to see Huddersfield promoted. Huddersfield are the form team at the moment but I’m sticking with a Exeter home win 1-0 to see them stay up. In terms of the final relegation place I’d expect Tranmere to win away at Stockport to send Gillingham down \o/ as I think Hartlepool will get the point away at Brentford.

It promises to be a day and game to remember for Town fans and whatever the result I’m proud to be a Swindon fan.

Come on Town, Get the Win and Get Promoted… Up the Football League We Go!

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