Millwall striker Bradshaw: ‘You have to ride out rough spells’

Millwall forward Tom Bradshaw is hoping his dry spells in front of goal are behind him as he targets a repeat of his purple patch from the 2019/20 campaign.

The 29-year-old’s brace in the 2-1 home win over Stoke were his first goals of this campaign.

He wants to build on that.

He said: “It’s funny how things work out – you can have spells that no matter what you do, the ball just won’t go in the back of the net – whether that’s a ridiculous save or earlier in the season when I was flagged offside, even though I feel like I wasn’t.

“But you also have spells in football where you can’t stop scoring and the ball goes in off the back of your head.”

Bradshaw’s goals at the weekend were almost a carbon copy of each other, with the Lions man getting the rare opportunity to feast on two chances inside the six-yard box.

It’s hard to remember the last time Millwall scored two such similar strikes.

“The first one goes in and then, 10 minutes later, it couldn’t have been an easier chance really.” laughed Bradshaw. “Football’s a strange game, but you’ve got to ride those waves when they come.

“A striker has to keep getting into those positions where there’s a chance the ball could drop.”

When Bradshaw first arrived at the club from Barnsley for a then club record seven-figure fee, the Lions were mostly a 4-4-2 side.

But during Bradshaw’s long spell on the sidelines, the Lions have started to line up with just one central striker.

A host of elite clubs now operate without a recognised striker, perhaps inspired by Pep Guardiola’s success at Manchester City.

Traditional number nines are a dying breed.

“Definitely – as the years have gone on, there aren’t many teams I know that play 4-4-2 anymore,” said Bradshaw, who struck his double after Matt Smith came on, in the 48th minute, to play alongside him. “The approach was really popular even as recently as five or 10 years ago. It is a dying formation. But you know what football’s like – I’m sure it’ll make a comeback at some point and become popular again.

“In modern football, you’ve got to be adaptable to playing in all kinds of different positions and formations.

“At Barnsley I spent a long time up front on my own. That’s something you need to have in your armory. It’s definitely become more popular to see it along with two 10s instead.

“You’ve got to be adaptable to play both ways in the modern game.”

Bradshaw would have been out of contract in May had the club not taken up a one-year option on his deal.

Playing for his long-term future isn’t new to Bradshaw, who’s been in a similar scenario before.

“I’m quite a chilled person anyway, so when it comes to things like that I try not to think about it, to be honest,” he said. “I’ve been at Millwall a long time now and it feels like home.”

It’s the longest he’s been at a club since his first pro side Shrewsbury.

“I just approach every day with the same sort of mindset, so whatever happens with my contract situation I’m not really thinking about it too,” he said. “I’m just enjoying my football. “Maybe towards the end of the season, it becomes a different situation and you’re starting to think ‘will they or won’t they’ extend my contract. For the time being, I’m just enjoying being part of a team that’s doing well.

“But the family at Millwall is one that I love and one that I feel a part of. Millwall have been my favourite club to be at throughout my career and long may that continue.

“I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing and hopefully, that can bring a consistent flow of goals and the team can keep doing well.”

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