Did anyone really expect the marvellous performance that Millwall gave against a highly optimistic Bristol City side at Ashton Gate on Saturday?
The Championship new boys from the capital showed tactical nous and organisation to stifle the Robins and produce one of the biggest shocks on the opening day.
One aspect which really helped Millwall was grabbing a goal three minutes before the break, with Darren Ward striking from close range. All the containment in the first half and then grabbing a goal couldn’t have been better for Kenny Jackett and basically made his half-time team talk an easy task.
The gaffer may of said keep it tight for fifteen minutes and then hit them on the break, slow the tempo down too. Then something even better and maybe surprising happened, with Danny Schofield running inside the box, cutting inside to bend his effort beyond David James just three minutes after the interval.
The timing of the goal couldn’t of been better, settling any nerves and giving the Lions a cushion in case Bristol City struck early on, or even worse, later on to possibly give them that momentum and belief to get a decent result.
Even more surprising was the coming of a third goal through the play-off hero and skipper, Paul Robinson.
Two of the goals were set pieces, and the fact that Millwall managed to get onto the second balls in and around the box, just to keep the pressure on the City defence, was crucial.
If you look at Darren Ward’s finish, only Millwall players touch the ball in the whole phase of play and the finish was fantastic as he had to hit it high to make sure David James doesn’t save it. Set pieces could definitely come in handy this season in staying up, and is always another option when needing a goal.
After a while the game got scrappy, with new signing Darren Carter getting sent off on his debut for an innocuous trip on another debutant, Bristol City's Albert Adomah. Then, in the dying minutes, Damion Stewart saw red for a second yellow card.
But when it’s all said and done, Millwall got exactly what they deserved with the 3-0 score line and a magnificent start to the season. They dominated possession in the end and forced more shots on goal and corners throughout the game.
Results like these should put Millwall in good stead for the season and possibly with stabilising the club in the Championship the objective, the three points could go far.
Next up is a London derby (of sorts) against Wycombe Wanderers at Adams Park in the Carling Cup. Obviously a run in the Carling Cup isn’t the main thing on Kenny Jackett’s agenda, but after this fixture is a huge game against Hull City at the New Den.
You’d possibly think that maintaining some sort of momentum going into the Hull game could be in mind, although resting players is obviously a possibility too. In that case, Neil Harris could get a first start to the season, and new goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall may warm up his gloves too.
All the hard work this summer could pay dividends in the early fixtures, and we hope this Championship ride continues how it's began.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.