Baggies play-off push restarts with massive Millwall clash

West Bromwich Albion v Millwall; The Hawthorns, Saturday 1st April 2023, 3pm

The Championship returns this weekend and Albion face nine massive games between now and the end of the season, eight of which are in a very hectic month of April starting with a huge match as the team that currently occupies sixth place visits the Hawthorns.

Obviously, the Baggies’ remaining games will only be massive as long as they stay in touch with the play-off places, and victory over Millwall would be a major boost as it would move Carlos Corberán’s team to within two points of the Lions with a game in hand.

Like Albion, Millwall’s start to the season was less than impressive and Gary Rowett’s team found themselves in 19th place in mid-September. Their recovery was a little earlier than Albion’s and their victory over Richard Beale’s Baggies just before Corberán took over moved the Lions into fifth place. While they haven’t produced a real run of form since then, they have managed to keep in or around the final play-off spot. Their only back-to-back victories since that win over Albion came in games against Reading and Swansea in March, and Rowett will have been frustrated that those wins were followed by a home defeat at the hands of struggling Huddersfield Town last time out.

That defeat for Millwall was one of a number of results that aided Albion’s cause when they sat out the last weekend of Championship fixtures a fortnight ago. Norwich City, Sunderland and Watford were all held to draws and Albion are well placed as the only one of the chasing pack to have a game in hand, albeit one that is away to Sheffield United.

The seventeen day break from action was well timed for Corberán’s fatigued squad with the majority able to enjoy some well-earned rest and recuperation. However, it came at a cost in terms of those on international duty with the news on Friday that Dara O’Shea will miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury and Jayson Molumby is out for four weeks with a groin problem, both injuries having been picked up in the Republic of Ireland’s 1-0 defeat to France. It is the second injury that O’Shea has picked up when on international duty and it will be particularly disappointing for Molumby who had been picked out for special praise by the Irish fans for his display in that match.

The loss of O’Shea will be slightly tempered by the news that Kyle Bartley has been training throughout the international break and Semi Ajayi returned from his spell with the Nigerian squad without problems. Daryl Dike, who started for the USA in their 1-0 win over El Salvador, has also returned safe and well.

Molumby’s absence is perhaps more concerning with his energy in the middle of the park making a massive difference to the way Albion have played in recent months. The most likely replacement given Corberán’s previous selections is Nathaniel Chalobah, but he doesn’t offer the same level of mobility around the pitch and, in my opinion, a more like-for-like alternative would be Taylor Gardner-Hickman – he seems to have fallen out of favour since the Spaniard took over having only started the first two games of his tenure and only made four substitute appearances since New Year’s Day.

While there is no doubt that the injuries to O’Shea and Molumby are a massive blow, it does provide opportunity for others to step up. There were plenty of people bemoaning the fact that we had to sign Molumby permanently last summer due to an appearances clause in his loan agreement, but I’m sure that many of those will now be writing off the season because of his injury such has been his influence during this campaign. Who’s to say that Chalobah or TGH will not rise the the challenge?

There is plenty to be positive about in the squad with Daryl Dike starting to show what he can do with four goals in his last five Baggies games, Brandon Thomas-Asante fit and raring to go and John Swift having showed some of his best form for Albion in recent weeks. The fixture will have special meaning for former Millwall talisman, Jed Wallace. The winger, who celebrated his 29th birthday over the international break, failed to sparkle on his return to the New Den in October and he will be anxious to prove that he made the right choice to move clubs by playing a big part in an Albion victory. He has been one of the Baggies’ most consistent performers this season and, while Corberán has switched him around in recent games with varying degrees of success, he remains one of the best attacking midfielders in the division.

Josh Griffiths was also away on international duty having been called up for the England U21s and he made his debut at that level as a half-time substitute in the 2-1 defeat to Croatia on Tuesday evening. He was unable to stop a penalty but made a couple of good saves to keep England in the hunt and it will undoubtedly give him more confidence to take forward into his club form. Alex Palmer is back in training but it is unclear whether he is fit enough to play this weekend, but it could easily be Griffiths’ last appearance of the season against Millwall and he will be eager to register another clean sheet.

Friday’s press conference also revealed that Karlan Grant and Kean Bryan are also back in training, but again no clarity as to how close they are to selection. Grant is likely to feature before the season’s end but Bryan, who was injured on his full debut in November 2021, may not play for Albion again with his contract up at the end of the season.

I’m sure the team that Corberán puts out on Saturday will be good enough to beat Millwall if they all play somewhere close to their best, and that is ultimately what is required in every game until the end of the campaign if the Baggies are to make the top six. The players will certainly not be writing off the season as some Albion fans seem to have done, and things will certainly look a lot brighter if they can send Millwall home with no points.


Saturday will see the 40th league meeting between Albion and Millwall and the Lions hold the edge in the head-to-head record with 16 wins to the Baggies’ 12. Including cup competitions, Millwall lead 19 wins to 15 from 45 matches played.

At the Hawthorns, the Lions have recorded six victories in total with the most recent being a 2-1 win in the League Cup first round in August 2019. Charlie Austin’s first goal in an Albion shirt gave the hosts an early lead but goals from Tom Bradshaw and Aiden O’Brien saw the visitors progress to the next round.

Millwall’s last league victory at the Shrine was in October 2001 when a Richard Sadlier double saw Mark McGhee’s team take the points on a rare Thursday evening fixture. Gary Megson had been unhappy with the scheduling, changed for coverage on the doomed ITV Digital platform despite Albion having played a League Cup tie just two days earlier. The Lions’ record victory in B71 was on Boxing Day 1987 when a young Teddy Sheringham claimed a hat trick in a 4-1 victory as John Docherty’s team continued their march to the Division Two title.

One of the Baggies’ most famous victories over Millwall was in October 1983 when, facing a 3-0 deficit from the first leg, Ron Wylie’s Albion stormed back to take a 5-0 lead thanks to a brace apiece from Garry Thompson and Cyrille Regis and a penalty from Gary Owen. Dave Martin scored a last minute goal for the visitors, managed by George Graham, but the 5-1 win was enough to send the hosts through to the next round.

That wasn’t Albion’s biggest win over the Lions, however, as in a Division Two fixture on Boxing Day 1929, they went one better with a 6-1 victory. There were another pair of braces, from Tommy Glidden and Joe Carter, and further goals from Stan Wood and the legendary Ginger Richardson. Incidentally, the Baggies followed that result with a 7-3 win over Wolves just two days later!

All of Albion’s league meetings with Millwall have come in the second tier – the Lions have only played two seasons of top flight football, between 1988 and 1990 when Albion were in the second tier, and the Baggies have only played two seasons on third tier football between 1991 and 1993 when Millwall were in the second tier. The closest the Lions have come to the Premier League was in 2002 when they finished fourth in Division One but lost on aggregate to Birmingham City in the play-off semi-final.

Stat Attack

Current Form

Albion L W L W W D
Millwall W D L W W L

All competitions; most recent game on the right

Last matches

Last meeting

22 Oct 2022 – League Championship
Millwall 2 (Styles, Burey)
West Bromwich Albion 1 (Swift)

Last meeting at the Hawthorns

11 Sep 2021 – League Championship
West Bromwich Albion 1 (Bartley)
Millwall 1 (Ballard)

Last win

9 Feb 2020 – League Championship
Millwall 0
West Bromwich Albion 2 (Krovinovic, O’Shea)

Last win at the Hawthorns

22 Sep 2018 – League Championship
West Bromwich Albion 2 (Gayle, Gibbs)
Millwall 0

Albion’s Record against Millwall

  Overall   Home
  P W D L F A   P W D L F A
League 39 12 11 16 50 53   19 8 6 5 27 21
FA Cup 1 1 0 0 1 0   0 0 0 0 0 0
League Cup 4 2 0 2 7 6   3 2 0 1 7 3
Other 1 0 0 1 0 2   0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 45 15 11 19 58 61   22 10 6 6 34 24

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