Millwall v Fleetwood: Sowerby shines


Jack Sowerby –

The recent Premier League success of ex-Fleetwood goalscorer Jamie Vardy has opened a few eyes to the gems remaining in non-league. The Cod Army have used 22 players this season and nine of them, at one stage, have played below the Football League’s basement tier.

One of those nine is 21-year-old Jack Sowerby. In the space of two years, he has gone from bossing ninth tier opposition with Squires Gate, to facing ex-Championship clubs. Sowerby impressed in his first start of the season against Peterborough, finishing smartly to put his side in front in a 2-0 win, before helping the Cod Army to a 1-0 win at Chesterfield. As well as his capacity for goals, the versatile forward/midfielder has the kind of grit and determination one tends to see from players who have climbed up from non-league.

Strikers Steve Morison and Lee Gregory provide such qualities for Millwall. The duo have already scored nine league goals between them, Aiden O’Brien adding another five, as the Lions have netted more (21) than four of the top six. However, the presence of three potent forwards brings its own tactical dilemmas. Neil Harris normally favours 4-4-2, which incorporates two out-and-out strikers. However, some of the more attack-minded midfielders have perhaps not matched the discipline required in that system, leading the manager to switch to 4-3-3.

That gave them a better balance at Northampton on Saturday, midfielder Calum Butcher netting his first for the club. However, question marks linger over their defensive options, including the right partner for Byron Webster, with Tony Craig and Sid Nelson yet to convince. With Mark Beevers departed and Shaun Hutchinson out injured, there is potential for Fleetwood to cause problems in the opening 60 minutes.

Both teams tend to run out of firepower in the last half hour of matches, only four sides having scored fewer than Fleetwood’s five. Millwall have scored the same number in the final 30 and similarly, they tend to fade late on. If there’s a goal, it will most likely come in the first hour, from a forward hardened by the rigours of non-league.

The Football Lab’s Verdict: 1-1

Other League One predictions
Bradford v Sheff Utd Comeback kings against lead holders. 1-1
Chesterfield v Scunthorpe Iron woeful at Oldham, first mini-blip? 2-1
Coventry v Rochdale Sky Blues improving under Venus, Dale thrashed at Swindon. 2-1
Gillingham v Charlton Gills only won 1/7 when score first goal. 1-2
MK Dons v Southend MK bottom of home table, Shrimpers won once away. 1-1
Oldham v Bristol Rovers Tics FTS x8, most in L1. Gas done so only once. 0-1
Peterborough v Wimbledon Wombles in-form, Posh never win back-to-back. 1-2
Port Vale v Oxford U’s raise their game against the top 6 sides. 1-2
Shrewsbury v Northampton Salop managerless, Cobblers to bounce back. 0-2
Sheff Utd v Port Vale Blades unbeaten in 7, narrow home win. 1-0
Swindon v Walsall Both sides will cope with other’s possession tactics. 1-1
Last Saturday: 7 correct results/12. 2 exact scorelines – Bolton 2-0 Oldham, Oxford 1-0 Bradford

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