Two of the promoted teams from League One last season face each other early in this season’s Championship when Millwall host Bolton. It was automatic promotion for Bolton last season, but Millwall had to qualify through the playoffs to make the Championship. With both teams expected to struggle on their return to the second tier, this game is going to be very important to both.
While both of these found a way to win in League One, they are going to find life much tougher in the Championship. Bolton have a thin squad and any injuries will cause them huge problems, while Millwall are going to have to find a plan B for when their direct style of football doesn’t work.
Millwall performed with credit against Nottingham Forest in their opening game, although they did eventually lost 1-0. They stuck to their plan and made it tough for Forest, and nearly nicked an equaliser at the end, although it wasn’t to be. That style of football will not always work though, and they need to find something different.
They won 2-0 against League Two Stevenage in the League Cup on Tuesday, beating them with ease to book their place in the next round.
It is at home where Millwall need to find points if they are going to survive in the Championship and games like this one throughout the season will be huge. They have a game plan, and need to use it well to pick up points and remain safe.
Bolton began life with a tough home defeat to Leeds on Sunday, eventually losing the game 3-2. They showed they are not the most comfortable team in defence and that will punish them unless they improve, especially away from home. That is their concern right now, and better defensive displays are needed if they are to have any chance of surviving.
They managed to come from behind on Wednesday night to beat League Two Crewe 2-1 away from home. They went into the final 20 minutes 1-0 down, but pulled back two goals to win the tie and book their place in the next round.
Bolton are in a very similar position to Millwall, they need to find a way to pick up valuable points if they are to have any chance of survival. Games like this one are hugely important and anything they can take from Millwall will be a great result for them.
A lot of Millwall’s play revolves around target man Steve Morrison, who is the main focus of their attacking line up. He will play, although whether new signing Tom Elliot plays alongside him is something we will have to wait and see. He came on as a sub last weekend near the end, but his performance in midweek, which included him scoring both goals, was one that will certainly have made people take note of him.
Bolton don’t have much of a squad to rotate so I expect them to play a similar line up to the one that played Leeds last weekend. Their two strikers Adam LaFondre and Gary Madine both found the back of the net in that one and while ever Bolton are struggling defensively, those two need to find the goals. I am struggling to see Bolton keeping a clean sheet anywhere right now, especially away from home so those two need to keep firing.
Top Betting Tips
This game is a big one, even though it is just the second game of the season. Both teams will want to take something from the game as it is likely they will be involved in a relegation battle later in the year. Millwall are very direct and make it tough for teams to play against them. I think that style will win the game here and I am going to back Millwall to beat Bolton. There is not much value in the normal market so I will back them to win the game by the score line 1-0 which you can back at a reasonable 6/1 with William Hill and Ladbrokes. I can see Millwall keeping things tight and eventually finding a way to get the ball in the net at the other end.
If this game was played later in the season we would all be talking about how big and important it was. Just because we are at the start of the season, it doesn’t mean that these three points are not valuable to both clubs.