It’s that time of year again.
With seven games to go in the League One season, Millwall sit in fifth position in the table – mostly due to a run of just two defeats in their last fifteen games.
An extension to the campaign in the play-offs looks likely; if the Lions go on to reach the final at Wembley Stadium, they would have played a monumental 58 games over the course of the 2015-16 season.
There have been a number of players used across the year, but who has been your favourite? Who gets your vote for the Player of the Year award?
In stark contrast to previous years; where selecting a winner has been more of a chore than a delight, this season sees a plethora of names fighting to take the crown. I believe there are four main candidates, with two or three runners and riders shortly behind. Who are they? Well, you’ll just have to read on and find out…
Starting from the back; the first choice – and probably the red-hot favourite – is goalkeeper, Jordan Archer. The stopper made his Lions debut in the Capital One Cup defeat to Barnet back in August, but produced a man of the match performance on the night, making many amongst the Den faithful clamour for him to start more regularly.
Archer was handed his league debut in the goalless draw at Scunthorpe United a few weeks later and – bar a few games in the wake of his red card against Gillingham – hasn’t looked back. Saves against Bury and Peterborough United will stick in the memory for a long, long time; whilst his calmness, flexibility and quality between the sticks has elevated his status in SE16. If you finish above Archer in the voting, it’s safe to say you’ll win the trophy.
The second choice will perhaps surprise some, but there is reasoning behind it – Byron Webster.
A total outcast in the ill-fated Ian Holloway era, there looked to be only one solution to Webster’s Millwall career – leaving the club as soon as possible. However; the towering centre-half has come back with a vengeance this season, becoming a sure-fire part of the back four week in, week out. His obvious lack of confidence from times gone by has disappeared and he is now the commanding defender that we know he can be.
Along with Mark Beevers; Webster is part of a partnership that hasn’t conceded for five games (and counting) at The Den, whilst both have also lent their weight at the other end, notching a few goals each. Having taken the armband on one occasion, too, it would be hard to leave out the former Yeovil skipper when deciding on your vote.
The third and fourth choices are Millwall’s front two, Lee Gregory and Steve Morison.
With just the 38 goals between them, Gregory and Morison have frightened and had the better of many League One defences this season. Morison has played the senior role to perfection this year – Neil Harris giving him the captain’s armband in the wake of Tony Craig’s injury in October has seemed to have given the striker a new lease of life.
Nobody can criticise him for failing to do the dirty work this time round – something that irked Lions fans in the past – and along with that, he also has 15 goals to his name. Many opposition fans that I have spoken to this season have cited Morison as the player they are most worried about; with good reason, too.
Gregory; meanwhile, has thrived in a proper formation and has benefited hugely from the presence of Morison and the service from out wide in Jed Wallace, Shane Ferguson, Fred Onyedinma and Chris Taylor.
The former non-league hot-shot has equalled Morison’s tally from the play-off winning 2009/10 season and will have his sights set on the 30-goal mark before the season is out. Without Gregory’s goals, we wouldn’t be where we are – simple as that.
Whilst they are the four main selections, there are a few ‘outsiders’ that could possibly make the cut when the votes are revealed.
Beevers himself has been solid all season and rarely puts a foot wrong. As stated above, along with Webster, the pair have built the foundation for the Lions’ success this term.
Since coming in at right-back in February, Mahlon Romeo has personified calmness, swagger and Millwall spirit – and even capped his debut with a superb strike. The kid is going places.
Lastly, Lions fan Ben Thompson. The combative midfielder plays for the club like any supporter would and had he featured for the whole season, would surely be a favourite to take the crown.
Who gets your vote?