The Reds have the worst away record in the top five divisions of English football this season, having lost eight and drawn two of their ten games on the road. They have lost their last four away games which is the worst such run since they were beaten in their last six away matches of the 2017/18 season. Barnsley have not won away from home in 243 days since a 3-0 success in League One at Plymouth Argyle on Easter Monday.
Their last Championship success on the road, at Birmingham City in February last year, has been followed by a run of just three points from 17 winless second tier matches on their travels. The last time Barnsley did not win any of their first ten away matches in a league season was in 2001 when they had to wait 12 away trips for victory which eventually came at Stockport County on Boxing Day. Tomorrow’s trip to a club two points off the top six is the first of four away games in their next five fixtures.
Struber told the Chronicle: “An away win is our next step. We were very close in Cardiff (a 3-2 loss in the last away game). We just need to make a little progress and show that performance for the whole game this time. I trust my team that we have a big chance to win away.”
Long-serving manager Neil Harris stepped down from his role at Millwall in early October when – after picking up seven points from their first three games – they were winless in seven. They then appointed Gary Rowett who has won five of his 11 games in charge, drawing four and losing two. They are unbeaten in seven and are fifth in the form table over that time, while their last two games have brought wins at Bristol City and Rowett’s old club Derby County.
They have only lost once at home all season, to London neighbours QPR in September, after which they are unbeaten in six matches at The New Den with three draws and three wins. The only teams to have lost fewer games than Millwall’s five this season are the runaway top two Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion.
Struber said: “They are a very good opponent and it will be outside our comfort zone. I hear the atmosphere at Millwall is big and special. But our big point is to concentrate on our task and not the atmosphere. They are a good counter-attack team. They are organised in defence and they have good forwards like (Tom) Bradshaw and (Jed) Wallace. We have a good matchplan for them and it’s the right time for a top performance. We know we can score goals, through many players, but we need to be good positionally in defence and control the ball.”
Defenders Aapo Halme and Ben Williams have recovered from the injuries that kept them out on Saturday while striker Patrick Schmidt is well again after missing the match through illness. Rowett lost his first two matches against Barnsley as a manager, a 3-0 home defeat with Birmingham City in December 2016 then a 3-2 League Cup loss with Derby County the following year. But he then did the double with the Rams in the 2017/18 Championship season, winning 3-0 at Oakwell then 4-1 at Pride Park on the final day of the season to relegate the Oakwell club last year.
Millwall have five ex-Reds in their squad including two goalkeepers. Poland international Bartosz Bialkowski – who had a two-game loan spell at Oakwell in 2009 – has played every league game for the Lions this season. His back-up has been Luke Steele who played 227 games for the Reds between 2008 and 2014 but has only appeared in two EFL Cup ties so far for Millwall. The 35-year-old signed on loan from Nottingham Forest after Lions stopper Frank Fielding picked up a long-term quad injury in the opening game.
The Lions’ second top-scorer is Bradshaw, who netted 21 goals in 93 appearances for the Reds between 2016 and the start of last season. He did not score in an injury-plagued first campaign at the London club then, after a good start to this season, ended an eight-game dry spell with the winner at Derby.
Jason McCarthy, who played 24 games for the Reds in the 2017/18 season, signed for Millwall from Wycombe Wanderers in the summer and played four games early on before being sidelined by a toe injury.
Millwall also have winger Connor Mahoney who played eight games for Barnsley last year on their way to relegation while on loan from Bournemouth, starting only three. He joined the Lions for £1million in the summer and is yet to score in 18 appearances.
The two clubs have met 60 times, with the Reds winning 24 and losing 23. Barnsley had won five successive games against Millwall – including the 2016 League One play-off final at Wembley – but lost twice to them last year, 4-1 away in the FA Cup in January and 2-0 at home in the Championship in March.
The Reds have won three of their last four league games at The New Den, including the last two thanks to Lewin Nyatanga’s last-minute header in a 3-2 success in 2015 and a 3-1 victory in 2017 thanks to Bradshaw’s brace and a Mamadou Thiam penalty.