Victory over West Brom can send roaring Lions into play-off positions – with Tom Bradshaw underlining their confidence


Tom Bradshaw. That is all that needs to be said.

The Millwall striker produced a stunning first-half performance to blow away Watford at The Den on Wednesday night.

It’s been a fantastic few days for Bradshaw. The Shrewsbury-born striker netted his first goal of the season in the 2-1 win at Bristol City on Saturday and backed that up with a first-ever league hat trick to sting the Hornets. To make that even more impressive, he completed his treble in just 25 minutes and 12 seconds.

As each of his goals against Watford went in, the more confident Bradshaw looked. The third goal may not have been the best of the lot, but it certainly showed a lot of confidence to pull off, to be able to shift the ball on to his left foot and send the goalkeeper the wrong way.

One of the reasons for his great goal return in the last two games has been the formation switch to 4-4-2. His ability to bring the players around him into the game has enabled chances to be created for him in positions he is more likely to score. Take the second goal as a prime example. He was in the right place at the right time to produce a poacher’s finish from Mason Bennett’s low cross.

The Lions have scored 12 goals from set-pieces this season, the most in the league. To put this into context, the next best is Sheffield United (7). Watford could not deal with that threat.

Jake Cooper won eight aerial duels, including two that directly helped with goals. His ability in the air is crucial to Millwall, who have won more of those duels than any other side in the Championship (26).

Few teams in the league have the prowess from set-pieces that Millwall possess, making them unique in a league where the margins are so fine. Opposition clubs know about their strength but dealing with it is another matter, as Watford boss Slaven Bilic conceded after his team’s battering.

The Lions have not lost a point from winning positions this season. QPR, Blackburn and Preston all boast that same record.

Millwall have fallen behind nine times this season and only picked up five points from those positions. It underlines how big that first goal is.

Victory tomorrow against West Bromwich Albion would really show how far the Lions have come in just five games.

All the attention will be on the return of Jed Wallace, one of the best players to wear a Millwall shirt in recent years. However, Millwall go into that contest with the chance to move 12 points clear of Baggies and, more importantly, could end the weekend in the top six.

It would show their former main man that the grass is not always greener on the other side.

STAR MAN – Tom Bradshaw – A 25-minute hat-trick. You can’t ask for much more than that.

BEST MOMENT – Bradshaw’s first goal. The technique, the strike – everything about it was so satisfying.

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