MillwallSport

Four takeaways from Millwall’s 1-0 win over Stoke – Nisbet-Bradshaw partnerships clicks as tactical change pays off

BY ALEX GRACE

Millwall ended a run of three consecutive defeats in all competitions with a 1-0 win over Stoke City on Saturday afternoon.

Kevin Nisbet’s first goal for the club was enough for all three points and handed Gary Rowett’s side a second victory of the season and a first home win since April.

Here are Alex Grace’s four takeaways from the game.

A MUCH-NEEDED WIN

A victory was the only acceptable result in SE16 on Saturday. The win at Middlesbrough on the opening day seemed a long time ago, the two league performances since then had not filled fans with confidence – if you add in the disaster against Reading then this was very overdue.

The scenes at the end of the game at Norwich meant a big response was needed. Last week’s performance at Carrow Road was passive. This was the polar opposite, this was the Millwall side that we’ve got used to over the years – on the front foot, taking the game to the opposition.

Stoke started the better of the two sides in the opening 10 minutes, but after that Millwall took over. There was concern that the crowd would turn if the performance was lacking but the majority of the 15,000 in attendance roared on their side after they saw the dedication and the effort their team were putting in.

The scenes at the end when Stoke were pilling on the pressure were reminiscent of some of those games last season where everything was put on the line to save the points. Blood, sweat and tears. You don’t have to be the best player in the world to play for Millwall but you need to have heart and passion, something that returned on Saturday.

WINLESS HOME RUN ENDED

Millwall’s home form has always been so strong. The Den has always been a very hard place to come and play football. It has a fear factor. Coming to SE16 is classed as one of the hardest away days for any team. However, recently that has not been the case. Victory over the Potters was the first time the Lions have tasted victory on their own patch since April 15, a 2-0 win over Preston.

Since then, Birmingham, Blackburn and Bristol City have all come and taken maximum points – the first time that has happened in Rowett’s Millwall tenure.

A win and a clean sheet is the perfect way to end that spell and get the fans back onside. Leeds are the next visitors to SE16, ending the poor run before their visit was important.

NISBET OFF THE MARK

In an interview recently, the former Hibs striker told the South London Press that he wasn’t worried about his slow start in terms of goal return and that has been evident, he has not looked under stress at any point so far.

He is a striker that if the opportunity is presented to him, he will take it and will punish the opposition should they be so kind. We saw in pre-season the type of goals he can score and how effective he can be if he plays with a partner up front and that was evident on Saturday afternoon.

Now he is off the mark, hopefully the goals will begin to flow for the Scottish international. The Lions need this to be the case as scoring goals have proved to be hard so far this campaign, with just three scored in five games in all competitions.

He and Tom Bradshaw worked very well together, their link-up play and ability to find each other can only be a good thing for Millwall going forward. You know what you are going to get with Bradshaw, Millwall fans love his energy and passion for the club and having both of them playing together will only help the goal return.

A TWEAK TO THE FORMATION

Something had to change after Norwich. The back-three lacked pace. Jake Cooper, Shaun Hutchinson and Murray Wallace have been great servants to Millwall but in this formation the three of them playing together is a challenge.

All three are lacking pace and this has caused issues. This is why the wing-backs have not had that freedom to get forward. The addition of Ryan Leonard on the right side of the back three made a big difference. He has the pace and is able to react quickly if needed, having had the experience of playing as a wing-back. The arrival of Brooke Norton-Cuffy also aided Millwall’s cause.

To play with a back five you need to have centre-backs that can be mobile and wing-backs that can have the license to get forward and not allow the midfield to get overloaded. This was done to perfection on Saturday. Repeat this most weeks and the Lions will win more than what they lose.

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