Five Things We Learned: Millwall vs Birmingham

Time away from the squad has Jordan Archer back to his best

The shot stopper was left in the cold following a supposed attitude problem after the defeat away to Rotherham on 26th August, leaving him to have to sit in the stands before he even return to the bench.

Consequently, on-loan Bolton goalkeeper, Ben Amos started 13 games between the sticks but was ineligible to play against his parent club on the weekend.

In the opening minutes against Bolton on Saturday Archer made an outstanding double save to by racing off of his line to deny Will Buckley and then tracking back to palm away Jason Lowe’s follow up from point blank.

His performance no doubt warranted a start against Birmingham and despite the 2-0 defeat Archer kept his team in the game. His cat-like reflexes first deprived of Jacques Maghoma from scoring in the first half and in the second he produced an impressive save in the build-up to Birmingham’s second.

The Scotsman has received a lot of criticism over the years but time away from the squad seems to have refocused and motivated him. He is defiantly back to his best and I will be surprised if we see Ben Amos in a Millwall shirt again in the near future.

READ: Millwall's summer signings, how they've fare

Millwall’s misfortune with striking injuries are furthered

Millwall’s striking options have been withered down from four to one since the away game at Brentford at the start of the month.

Record signing, Tom Bradshaw has been ruled out for the season following a ACL injury while target men, Tom Elliot and Steve Morison both have been struggling with hamstring injuries.

Morison made a miraculous recovery for Birmingham and played the full 90 minutes which was a huge boost for Neil Harris’ side.

However, while one has returned another has unfortunately been injured. Lee Gregory limped off 20 minutes from time and Harris suggested he may not be fit to face Bristol City on the weekend.

It is a huge blow for the Lions as their gameplay thrives of Gregory’s work rate and the ex-non-league striker has arguably been one of their stand out performers this season with 7 goals already to his name.

A chance for younger players to prove themselves?

There could be one positive to come from Millwall’s injury crisis. Harris mentioned post-match that he will be considering involving a few younger players in his match-day squad against Bristol City. This could be chance for those in the academy teams to make a name for themselves and cement their place in the managers long term plans.

One who is likely to be involved is 19-year old winger Lewis White.

White has been a standout player for the U23s this season with already bagging two goals. He was left out of the U23s side that played Ipswich on Monday night, leaving speculation to grow that he may be involved against Birmingham.

However, with Gregory now joining Bradshaw and Elliot on the side lines, Aiden O’Brien is expected to start up front, White can provide cover on that left flank.

READ: Harris forced to shuffle his pack for Bristol City trip

Ryan Leonard’s style of play can sometimes be a liability

The midfielder has been Millwall’s inform player since his arrival from Sheffield United on transfer deadline day.

He has built up a reputation of being a physical box-to-box centre-mid and is already loved by the Millwall fans.

However, against Birmingham on Wednesday night Leonard’s style of play became a liability as two ridiculous challenges within the space of eight minutes meant that the Lions had a to play 60 minutes with ten men.

Neil Harris said he had no complaints about the sending off and Leonard will now be watching a thin Millwall side take on Bristol City on Sunday from his sofa.

Garry Monk has transformed Birmingham

The ex-Swansea manager has transformed Birmingham from being relegation contenders to play off hopefuls within a space of eight months.

Despite being the same side, Garry Monk has taken them back to basics.

The striking partnership of Che Adams and Lukas Jukiewicz has been unstoppable this season as they have been involved in 24 of Birmingham’s 27 goals this season.

The victory against the Lions sees them now four points of the play offs and if they stop conceding goals, I am sure they will be in and around 6th place in May.