Last week's defeat at Reading, coupled with the midweek results, has left us six points behind the play offs and we've not been that far behind since the mid-December home defeat against Portsmouth that left us, that day, seven points behind the coveted sixth place.
|Jay Rodriguez, scored last two goals against Millwall|
Since then we've edged ever closer, at one point getting within two points and one place, but just one win in the last four games has seen us slip those points away and that means we really have to start putting a run together to get us right back up there.
Eddie Howe has this week spoke enthusiastically about his options up front, but we might have been better served today with a strike partnership of Andy Cooke and Ian Moore (without the Thomas) whose records against Millwall speak for themselves.
Cooke, between 1997 and 2000, scored six times against them and Moore netted four times in just over two years between 2001 and 2003.
Maybe Jay Rodriguez is the new Cooke or Moore in terms of Millwall. He scored the winning goal at the Den this season and also scored the goal there last season when we drew with ten men following the crazy sending off of Clarke Carlisle.
Last season was Millwall's first at this level since their relegation in 2006 and with the 3-0 defeat here last season we have to go back over six years for our last home league goals and points against them.
What a night that was too as Richard Beeby brandished four red cards. Three of them went Millwall's way with Burnley successfully appealing the incorrect decision to send off James O'Connor. We were a goal down in the first minute but came back to win it with second half goals from Wade Elliott and Nathan Dyer, making his Burnley debut.
Looking forward to today's game and Howe, as referred to above, has plenty of options although he will be without two players and that will force him into a change from the team beaten at Reading.
Josh McQuoid, who is with the Clarets on loan from Millwall, started in that game but will not be eligible today. I've read this morning that he's been automatically excluded because players are not permitted to play against their parent club. That is not the case at all in the Football League although there is such a rule in the Premier League. However, the two clubs agreed at the time McQuoid signed that he would not be able to play in this game.
The only other member of the first team squad ruled out is Junior Stanislas. He suffered a hamstring injury in the win at Middlesbrough six weeks ago. Estimates at the time suggested an absence of eight weeks so he should be a couple of weeks away.
I don't see us making many changes today and the replacing of McQuoid could be the only one. I expect both Jay Rod and Charlie Austin to start and so I don't expect Howe to employ a third striker so that should see both Danny Ings and Martin Paterson on the bench.
That leaves two choices as I see it, a return for Keith Treacy or a first ever league start for Zavon HInes. Neither of them even made the bench last week at Reading but I would think Treacy is the one most likely to get a place.
The team could be: Lee Grant, Kieran Trippier, Michael Duff, David Edgar, Ben Mee, Ross Wallace, Dean Marney, Chris McCann, Keith Treacy, Charlie Austin, Jay Rodriguez. Subs from: Brian Jensen, Brian Easton, Marvin Bartley, Zavon Hines, Danny Ings, Martin Paterson.
Our Opponents - Millwall
Millwall ended last season, their first after promotion, in ninth place in the Championship. Despite having been two leagues below the Clarets in the previous season, they ended 2011/11 just one place and one point behind us.
This season has proved more difficult for them and they go into today's game in 19th place. Their struggle to score goals has been the major problem. Defensively they are ok but they've scored just 31 goals in 32 games and only four teams (four of the five below them) have scored less.
Even so they do have forwards to keep an eye on, none more so than Darius Henderson. He's their leading scorer with twelve goals and that includes two hat tricks, and incredibly both away from home, at Leicester City and Barnsley.
He is likely to be partnered by Andy Keogh the former Scunthorpe and Wolves striker who signed for Millwall on the last day of the January transfer window and has, to date, scored once in three games, that against Brighton.
They won both of the games when Henderson got three, 3-0 and 3-1 respectively, but they are their only away wins in the league this season. Having said that, their recent away results are not too unimpressive.
The Barnsley win came in January and since then they've lost 2-1 at West Ham to a joke goal given by hapless homer referee Michael Jones, won in the FA Cup at Southampton and drawn at Brighton.
Manager Kenny Jackett might be forced into leaving out Jack Smith after he needed treatment after a clash of heads with Alan Dunne in training on Thursday. Dunne needed a couple of stitches in a head wound and should be available but Smith is rated doubtful.
Liam Trotter is also a doubt but Jackett sees both Tony Craig and Jordan Stewart return from injury whilst Jimmy Abdou could start after an impressive show as a substitute in their defeat to Middlesbrough on Tuesday.
Goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall remains out with an ankle injury and both Therry Racon and Tamika Mkandawire are likely to be ruled out.
Millwall's team against Middlesbrough on Tuesday at the Den, a game they lost 3-1, was: David Forde, Jack Smith, Paul Robinson, Shane Lowry, Scott Barron, Liam Feeney, Josh Wright, Liam Trotter, Andy Keogh, Darius Henderson, Harry Kane. Subs: Ryan Allsop, Dany N'Guessan, Alan Dunne, James Henry, Jimmy Abdou.
Last Time They Were Here
The home game against Millwall last season was the day the season took a turn for the worse and led to a run that really ruled out any hopes of a play off place and a potential return to the Premier League.
We went into the game having won 16 points from the previous six games, and that was with four of those six games having been played away from Turf Moor. Nottingham Forest held sixth place, the last play off position, and we'd reduced their lead on us to two points and we had two games in hand with three of the next four at home.
|Nathan Delfouneso hit the bar on his home debut|
Unfortunately a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Millwall was the start of a run of six games that saw us win just one point.
We never really got going in this game although for the first half at least there seemed no suggestion of the disaster to come. We could have even taken the lead when home debutant Nathan Delfouneso clipped the bar with a header.
We weren't anything like at our best but were the better side and the more likely to score during the first half although when the teams went in at half time with the score at 0-0 it was probably a fair reflection of the first 45 minutes.
Thankfully, we came out in the second half with some more urgency and David Forde was forced into early saves from both Ross Wallace and Dean Marney. Unfortunately the bright start ended with a Millwall goal.
It was an awful goal to give away too, starting with the unnecessary conceding of a corner. That corner was hit to the far post, eluding Lee Grant who got himself caught in no man's land and Paul Robinson was totally unmarked to head home.
They say goals change games and this one certainly changed this game. From that moment on Millwall were very much the better side.
Goal number two was another soft one; another corner and another header from Robinson with Michael Duff just too easily beaten.
Our only response was what should have been a penalty ten minutes from time. Chris Iwelumo was clearly fouled but referee Eddie Ilderton waved it away. Who knows, that might have given us the lift for a late charge but it wasn't to be and Millwall added a third.
This one was no better either. It came from a Millwall goal kick. It was headed on without challenge for Andros Townsend, the Spurs player who seems to be intent on appearing for every Championship club, to hit home a shot into the bottom corner.
The performance was poor. Had it been a one off performance then we'd have been fine. Unfortunately it led to that poor run and the inevitable failure to reach the top six.
The teams were;
Burnley: Lee Grant, Tyrone Mears, Clarke Carlisle, Michael Duff, Danny Fox, Jack Cork, Dean Marney (Graham Alexander 90+1), Chris Eagles (Chris Iwelumo 59), Ross Wallace, Jay Rodriguez, Nathan Delfouneso (Wade Elliott 68). Subs not used: Brian Jensen, David Edgar, Andre Bikey, Marvin Bartley.
Millwall: David Forde, Alan Dunne, Darren Ward, Paul Robinson, Tony Craig, James Henry (Craig Eastmond 90), Tamika Mkandawire, Liam Trotter, Andros Townsend (Scott Barron 88), Steve Morison, Kevin Lisbie (Martin Rowlands 79). Subs not used: Steve Mildenhall, Chris Hackett, John Marquis, Josh McQuoid.
Previous Games against Millwall
|Last 20 Years|
|1994/95||Division 1||a||3-2||7,375||Winstanley(2), Robinson|
|h||4-3||14,890||Cox, Cooke, Davis, Cook|
|2001/02||Division 1||a||2-0||11,903||I Moore, A Moore|
|2002/03||Division 1||h||2-2||11,878||West, I Moore|
|2003/04||Division 1||h||1-1||10,435||I Moore|
Click HERE to see all previous results against Millwall