For the sixth time since their promotion to the Championship, Millwall have missed out on the play-offs. But this time around will be more painful than ever for the Lions.

At half time in their game against Blackburn, Millwall had it all in their hands. A win against the Rovers would’ve secured a position in the play-offs for the first time since their promotion in 2017, and they were 3-1 up at the break.

But into the second half, and two goals for Ben Brereton-Diaz and one for Joe Rankin-Costello saw Blackburn come back to beat the Lions 4-3 at the Den. And the most frustrating part for both sides is that neither of them finished in the play-offs, because Sunderland beat Preston to take them into the top six.

But has it been a bad season for the Lions?

It might be hard to take any positives for Millwall at the moment, considering the circumstances in which they lost out on a shot at promotion, but this is the Lions' joint highest finish since their promotion from League One, and they have one of the best strike partnerships in the league.

The problem for Millwall is that it’s the third time they’ve finished eighth – two places off the play-off positions - in the last six years. The Lions' points tally of 68 is joint second for the best points tally they’ve accumulated since their promotion to the Championship, and this season is the joint most goals they’ve scored in their time in the competition (57).

All of the evidence points to it being a good season for Millwall, but the play-off story remains the same. They just miss out again. 

Flemming and Bradshaw’s form this season is a huge positive for Millwall, regardless of the outcome of the season. Millwall’s duo up top combined for 32 goals this season, which is the highest scoring duo in the league, behind Chuba Akpom and Cameron Archer. The problem comes with the fact that Flemming and Bradshaw have combined for over 50% of Millwall’s goals this year, with the highest total after Flemming’s 15 being Duncan Watmore with eight (and two of those goals came on the final day).

Going into the new season, Millwall will need to find goals from other areas of the pitch, whether that’s a midfielder that can add a surplus of goals, or a winger to turn Millwall’s attacking line into a deadly trio. Either way, Millwall will need to find a way of scoring more goals as a team, because the numbers show they can be a deadly attacking force with the right preparation.  

Another issue for Millwall came at the beginning and the end of the season. In the opening 10 games, Millwall claimed just 13 points, and that left them 13th in the league. Similarly, in 2021, the Lions had a poor start to the league, and were 14th after the opening six games, on just six points.

This season, the end of the season cost Millwall just as much as the start. The Lions picked up just 11 points in their last 10 games, meaning Millwall accumulated just 24 points in their opening 10 games and last 10 games combined.

For a side trying to finish in the play-offs, Millwall will need to be picking up more points in these periods, because the Lions then managed to tally 45 points in the remaining 26 games in the middle of the season, but the poor form either side of these matches cost them.

Millwall have a great chance of finishing in the play-offs next season if they can keep their best players and improve their squad. This season has been a step in the right direction for the club. Prior to this season, every time Millwall have finished in the top 10 of a campaign, the following season has seen them decline. But this season is the first time Millwall have improved on a top 10 finish.

They did finish one point lower than their tally last season, but Millwall were the closest they’ve been to the Championship play-offs this year. The Lions now need to bolster the squad, because if the club finish in the playoff’s next year, the 2022/23 season will be seen as a step in the right direction for Millwall. Fail to qualify for the play-offs however, and it’s just more of the same for the Lions, and they slip back into the same trend they’ve been in for the last six years.