Millwall know small margins mean big distinctions in Championship table
12:33pm Tuesday 30th October 2012 in Latest Sport
MILLWALL columnist MATT LITTLE is happy this week after the Lions responded to Kenny Jackett’s call for a clean sheet in Saturday’s 4-0 demolition of Huddersfield, as well as looking at the generosity of the club’s fans when it comes to digging deep to raise money for worthy charitable causes.
WELL, last week’s blog asked whether we could put in the perfect football performance against Huddersfield Town and gain a comfortable 2-0 win.
This was because I felt we were creating enough chances to win games, but were being wasteful with our finishing, while lacking the concentration and perhaps even the character to keep teams out at the other end.
After watching us let a Birmingham City side, which should have been buried by half-time, claw three goals back, Kenny Jackett spoke about the goals against column being a bit of an embarrassment this season, but countered that with his satisfaction with our attacking play and goals for column.
Indeed, the Lions are the fourth highest scorers in the Championship and are only three goals behind table-topping Cardiff City’s expensively assembled team in the shooting stakes.
And what a way to put things right on Saturday with a resounding 4-0 thumping of a Huddersfield Town side riding high and enjoying the momentum of last season’s promotion.
I’m not sure what match-going Millwall fans were most pleased about, the fact we finally showed a clinical end product to our attacking play or that we managed to finally keep our first clean sheet of the season.
As former Millwall manager George Graham would tell you, clean sheets are the building blocks of success in football.
Bristol City are currently languishing in the relegation zone, despite only Cardiff City having put the ball in the net on more occasions (two to be precise) than the Robins.
Our south London cousins Charlton Athletic, on the other hand, have managed to make the opposition keeper pick the ball out of the net just 14 times this season, with only rock bottom Ipswich having fared worse, but the Addicks are outside the relegation places and on a relatively healthy minus one goal difference.
If we had Charlton’s goals against column we would be on plus eight goal difference and in and around the play-off positions.
But that’s football, especially Championship football – small margins mean big distinctions.
The rest of the Championship will be saying the same, after all Charlton will be thinking if they could find a bit more invention in the final third they’d be looking up rather than down.
However, on reflection I think Jackett would prefer our problem rather than Chris Powell’s.
It’s a truism of the beautiful game that it’s a lot easier to solve shipping goals as opposed to trying to create them.
I am sure Bristol City would agree, it is easier to get a bit tighter than become a lot more creative.
We did the former on Saturday and strolled home with three points.
Charlton couldn’t do the latter and despite picking up a useful point at Wolves, they look in a worse position in the table than at the start of play.
Being creative also puts more pressure on the opposition.
We have a tricky looking away fixture at Nottingham Forest on Saturday, but you can be assured that Sean O’Driscoll will be telling his players about the need to be tight and compact in the opening stages.
There is no doubt Forest have an array of attacking options and if we were a bit toothless up front, they might fancy pouring forward and pinning us back.
But our goals for column might make them a bit more wary about leaving space behind them.
The City Ground has been a happy hunting ground for Millwall over the years and we have a very good record there considering the difference in stature between the two clubs.
So, hopefully with a traditionally healthy Millwall turnout for Nottingham, we can upset a few people’s coupons.
On another note I want to briefly talk about something Millwall don’t get a lot of recognition for outside of south east London.
Once again Millwall fans were extremely generous in their support of a good cause, raising £1,754 for the Poppy Appeal at The Den on Saturday.
And not only were Lions fans generous with their money, but with their time too, with some braving the cold to stand for hours to help collect donations and dispense Poppies with a smile.
I am not surprised by this generosity though - Millwall FC and its supporters have a long history of going above and beyond for various good causes.
Michael Calvin, in his book Family, is one of the few outsiders to have recognised this side to Millwall, which is a shame, because I know for a fact there will be those reading this blog scoffing at the very idea Millwall are anything but scum.
However, I have been lucky enough to meet people through my roles in both the military and education who have commented on finding out that I’m a Millwall fan not with the usual ‘are you a hooligan?’ but with kind words about our excellent community schemes and support for charitable causes.
These have ranged from a head teacher of a tough Lewisham Secondary School to an Everton fan who couldn’t believe the outpouring of support he received from Millwall fans on Help for Heroes day.
With that in mind I will now shamefully use this blog to raise awareness for Millwall fan Paul, who has been diagnosed with Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma for a second time.
However, Paul is Real Wall like one of his heroes Terry Hurlock and is currently doing well and is out of hospital.
Yet there is a long road ahead and Paul’s family have asked if there are people out there with Millwall related items to donate for a silent auction to be held at a benefit night at the Surdoc Social Club, Rotherhithe, Cope Street, SE16 2UJ on November 30 from 7.30pm to midnight.
If yes, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org and it will be much appreciated.
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