Millwall continue impressive run to leapfrog into a play-off position
As the campaign draws to a close, the Championship is hotting up at both ends of the table. Some teams are fighting for survival, while others aim to earn Premier League status next season. The battle for play-off spots is getting tighter each passing week. One side which has managed to jump into the top six is Millwall. So where have Neil Harris' men suddenly appeared from?
Millwall's play-off charge should come as no surprise. The Lions are unbeaten in 16 league games. Having won 11 of those matches, they have slowly crept up the table.
The Bermondsey-based club finished sixth in League One last year and went on to win the playoffs. Less than a year later, the Lions are competing with the Championship's powerhouses.
Tuesday night saw Millwall travel to Bolton Wanderers, a side fighting for survival. The Lions were in confident mood, knowing that the Trotters had lost their last three games. Harris was desperate for his side to continue their momentum. They did just that. Goals from Tom Elliott and Ben Marshall secured a 2-0 victory. It also clinched a sixth clean sheet from the past ten games.
Millwall's improved position in the Championship was helped by the result between Middlesbrough and Sheffield United. Tony Pulis' side sat above the Lions before the latest round of games, but they surrendered their position after losing 2-1 at Bramall Lane. Trailing 1-0, Grant Leadbitter's dismissal for a second bookable offence left Boro with too much to do.
With a two-point cushion inside the playoffs, Millwall can now focus on cementing their position over the season's run-in.
Millwall's strongest asset this season is the defence. Having conceded only 39 times in 42 games, they possess the fourth-best record in the Championship. Goalkeeper Jordan Archer has delivered solid performances, while the men at the back continue to put their bodies on the line. James Meredith, Shaun Hutchinson, Conor McLaughlin, Jake Cooper and Mahlon Romeo have all shined in their defensive duties.
Averaging almost 1.3 goals per game, Millwall have attacking firepower, too. Midfielder George Saville and striker Lee Gregory know how to find the net, having scored 10 apiece this season. Totalling 24 goals from forwards, 19 from midfield and 8 from defence, the Lions find a way of breaking teams down from all over the pitch.
Millwall seem to have no weakness and are hungry to finish the campaign on a high.
Next up is a trip to face fellow play-off hopefuls Sheffield United. It could prove a key encounter. Millwall fans, however, will also have one eye on other scorelines. Only five points separate the Lions from 11th-placed Preston North End. There's still everything to play for in the Championship's top half.
Harris has worked wonders at Millwall, producing three fantastic seasons. After taking over from Ian Holloway in 2014-15 only to suffer relegation from the Championship, he guided the Lions to fourth in League One during his first full campaign.
Ever since then, Neil Harris has been hailed a hero by the Millwall faithful. An underrated manager who can look forward to enjoying further success in the coming years. The Lions are in good hands as they embark on their final push to reach the promised land.