Millwall v Sheffield United: Probable line-ups, key men, past matches and the referee

There might be a division between them but, on the evidence of their previous encounters, Sheffield United’s visit to Millwall in the FA Cup fourth round will be a closely-contested affair.

Friday, 24th January 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 24th January 2020, 8:55 am

The Star’s James Shield reveals why, as he examines some of the facts, figures and major players likely to help shape the tie.

The Teams: Millwall - Bialkowski, Cooper, Romeo, M Wallace, Hutchinson, Woods, Ferguson, Molumby, J Wallace, Smith, Bradshaw. Sheffield United - Verrips, J Robinson, Jagielka, Rodwell, Osborn, K Freeman, L Freeman, Morrison, Besic, C Robinson, Sharp.

The Referee: Although Anthony Taylor is a member of the Select Group, the 41-year-old from Manchester will not be able to rely on VAR as The Den is not a top-flight stadium. One of England’s most experienced officials, Taylor has taken charge of the FA Cup final, the EFL Cup final, the Community Shield and the Championship play-off final since overseeing his first Premier League match in 2010. This fixture will be the second time he has refereed a game involving United, having cautioned two players, including Jack O’Connell, when Liverpool triumphed 1-0 at Bramall Lane in September. His average across the campaign as a whole is 4.5 bookings per game. Taylor’s last produced a red card when Tottenham Hotspur’s Heung-Min Son was dismissed during a 2-0 defeat by London rivals Chelsea. Chris Basham was dismissed on Taylor’s previous visit to Bramall Lane, which saw Chris Wilder’s side beat Blackburn Rovers 3-0 in December 2018. Rovers also finished that fixture with 10 men.

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The Last Meeting: United drew 1-1 when Millwall travelled to Bramall Lane in April of last year; a match which saw John Egan sent-off in the 85th minute. Ten later, trailing to a Gary Madine strike, the Londoners snatched an equaliser in added time when Jake Cooper steered a diving header beyond Dean Henderson. Millwall’s Ben Marshall had earlier missed the penalty awarded when Egan saw red for handball on the line. Although Chris Wilder accused his team of “inviting pressure” - “We went backwards as soon as we scored” - he also argued an “unbelievably poor” decision by referee David Webb had contributed to United’s failure to see the match out. “Everyone inside the stadium saw Ryan Leonard go through on David McGoldrick,” he complained. “It’s a foul and if he gives it, we get the ball, it goes in the corner and 30 seconds later we get the win.” The result eventually saw United fall three points behind second-placed Leeds, who beat Sheffield Wednesday later that day. However, Wilder’s squad went on to secure automatic promotion from the Championship.

The History Book: These two clubs have met 55 times in all competitions and, as they prepare to make that 56, you can barely fit a cigarette paper between them. United have recorded 23 wins, the last of those coming at The Den last term, compared to Millwall’s total of 22. Their most recent victory over Wilder’s side came at this stadium, in December 2017. Ten of their previous encounters, of course, have finished all-square. Millwall have also won three of their last four games against United on home soil. However, the visitors have won on both occasions when they have been paired together in the FA Cup. Those were actually the first ever fixtures between United and Millwall, in 1895 and 1914.

The Key Men: Cooper has scored in all of his last three games against United, including his dramatic equaliser when the two clubs clashed at Bramall Lane towards the end of last term. He has scored eight in all competitions since the beginning of the previous campaign and, aged 24, has been a regular starter under both Gary Rowett and his predecessor Neil Harris. Born in Bracknell and capped by England at under-18, under-19 and under-20 level, Cooper joined Millwall in 2017, having initially moved there on loan from his first professional club Reading. A centre-half, he helped the Londoners win promotion to the Championship via the play-offs later that season. United’s David McGoldrick scored twice on their last visit to this stadium but missed Tuesday night’s defeat by Manchester City due to the same foot complaint which also forced him to sit out the draw at Arsenal three days earlier.

Sheffield United travel to Millwall tomorrow in the FA Cup: Aaron Chown/PA Wire.
The Star's Sheffield United writer James Shield: Scott Merrylees
Millwall fans during an FA Cup match at The Den: Steven Paston/PA Wire.
Jack O Connell of Sheffield United is challenged by Jake Cooper of Millwall during the championship match at The Den: Robin Parker/Sportimage