Match Preview: Middlesbrough vs Millwall

Middlesbrough can guarantee themselves a play-off place with victory against promotion rivals Millwall on Saturday (5:30pm kick-off).

With a lot at stake for both sides, a healthy Riverside crowd is expected and fans have appealed for a ‘sea of red and wall of noise’ to help the team towards victory. Tickets are approaching the 30,000 mark and you can buy yours here.

On the pitch, Boro are high on confidence having beaten their last two direct rivals, including a big win against Derby County last weekend.

Mo Besic and Britt Assombalonga put Tony Pulis’s side into a two-goal lead before Boro old-boy David Nugent bagged a what proved to be consolation from the spot.

Saturday’s visitors Millwall also benefited from Boro’s victory at Pride Park and held sixth place until the Rams defeated Cardiff on Tuesday night.

Team news

Patrick Bamford has been cleared to play against Millwall following the head injury he sustained in the win over Bristol City.

“Patrick’s fit, so I’ve got a decision to make,” Pulis said. “It’s a lovely headache to have – I wish Rudy (Gestede) was fit as well. We need as much competition as we possibly can.

“Britt (Assombalonga) gave us a great performance against Derby. But there are no two games the same so it gives me that decision.”

As for Millwall, they will be without Tim Cahill after the veteran was given a three-match ban for violent conduct for elbowing former Boro loanee Ryan Fredericks in their 3-0 home defeat to Fulham.

What the managers say

Neil Harris:

“We have to bounce back on Saturday. It’s a great game to be involved in. The place is alight still, the boys are loving it. There’s a buzz and they can’t wait for it.

“I’m looking forward to seeing their response and I’m looking forward to seeing my players perform on the big stage again, in front of the Sky cameras and a big crowd against a very talented Middlesbrough side.”

Tony Pulis:

“The big thing tomorrow is that we play the way we have played and get our fans behind us. The support against Bristol City after we went a goal down was absolutely extraordinary, fantastic. We followed that up with tremendous support at Derby.

“Tomorrow we’ve got to make that stadium rock. We’ve got to make everyone understand and recognise that we’re a group, it’s not just the players on the pitch it’s the people in the stands.

“They’re a proud lot, it’s a very good area in terms of proper supporters, and we really do need them tomorrow.”

Match stats

  • Middlesbrough’s only win in their last five home league meetings with Millwall (D1 L3) was in their last match at the Riverside, a 3-0 win in March 2015.
  • The Lions are without a clean sheet in their last 10 league matches against Middlesbrough, last keeping one in a 1-0 win in November 2010.
  • Boro have won six of their last seven league games at home (L1), including each of the last two.
  • Millwall are unbeaten in their last nine away league matches (W7 D2) – if the Lions avoid defeat, they will equal their club record of 10 consecutive league games unbeaten on the road set in both 1921/22 and 1988/89.
  • Tony Pulis hasn’t faced Millwall since January 2007, a 2-0 win for Stoke in the FA Cup third round.
  • The last time Pulis lost to Millwall – a 3-1 defeat as Stoke manager in April 2003 – current Lions boss Neil Harris scored the opening goal.

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