BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Lee Gregory needs nine more goals for Millwall this season to break into their all-time scoring top-10 – but had no idea of his current spot in the history books.
The Lions’ number nine moved into double figures for the campaign with a superb header in Saturday’s FA Cup win over Everton.
And it saw Gregory climb to joint 15th in the club’s all-time charts, level with Richard Parker on 74 goals for Millwall.
Next in his sights are Alf Moule and Dave Jones – who both totalled 75. He needs to reach 83 goals to crack the top-10.
But Gregory told the South London Press he doesn’t keep track of that particular list of Millwall hotshots.
“I had no idea. Of course it would be nice [to reach the top-10]. Everyone wants to be recognised for the job they are supposed to be doing. Hopefully I can get there.
“I’m just trying to score as many as I can. I want to score every game. I know it’s not possible, but hopefully I can reach that.”
Gregory has more than paid back the reported £250,000 fee paid to bring him to SE16 from Halifax Town in 2014.
He has been a constant fixture in the frontline ever since. His displays and goals have been vital in Millwall winning League One promotion and then settling smoothly into the Championship.
Gregory has matched his haul for the 2017-18 season and there are at least 19 matches to go.
He didn’t quite hit his own pre-Christmas goal target – the number not being made public – but there is no disputing he has been one of the most consistent performers this time around.
“I was just a bit short [on his initial goal] but you move on, don’t you? I’ve got another target now and I’ll aim for that.
“As a team, we’re not doing as well as we should be, but then again it’s always harder in your second year. A lot of clubs seem to struggle in their second year after going up.
“For me personally, I feel very comfortable and confident.
“Club-wise and team-wise we are doing well, but just hadn’t been getting results. Hopefully that has changed in the new year and we can kick on.”
There has been a shift in formation for the last two matches, with Gregory the only out-and-out striker in a 4-3-3.
But he rejects the suggestion that it makes his shift up top even more demanding.
“I’ve really enjoyed it,” said Gregory. “We’ve shown we can play with different tactics and formation, and it is working.
“Whatever the gaffer goes with at the weekend, we just adapt to it.
“I’ve enjoyed being up top. I’ve not really been on my own, really. I am when we’re defending, but when we’re going forward we’ve got the two wingers pushing on.
“I’m seeing a lot more of the ball.
“I want to play every minute. I hate being brought off. I ask the gaffer every time he brings me off: ‘why are you bringing me off?’.
“When you say a heavy load, I’m doing nine or nine-and-a-half kilometres per match. The other lads are doing 11k a game. I’m not doing as much as them. It might look it, but I’m not.
“I’m fit. I feel like I can play every game. I just keep going.”
Millwall need to ensure they don’t follow the party atmosphere after knocking out Everton with a league hangover against Rotherham United tomorrow.
A seventh Championship win on home turf would open significant daylight over the strugglers.
“It’s massive,” said Gregory. “We need to take the Everton game through to this now. Use the positives from that in the next game. We’re still not out of the relegation battle.”
Gregory’s looping header over Jordan Pickford on Saturday drew praise from BBC pundit Dion Dublin.
And the striker admits the match is right near the top of his best Millwall memories.
“I never score with my head,” said Gregory. “I close my eyes and it just goes in! No, I’m happy to get the goal. There was a time before that when Hutch [Shaun Hutchinson] played it across with his head and I should have got on the end of that.
“Fortunately I got another chance and it went in. I think I’ve only scored about three before with my head, so I’d say it is the best one.
“Wembley is the number one highlight for me, it always will be. But the Everton match is definitely top three. The other would be the Leicester game, just for the fact they were champions the previous year and we beat them.”
So many Premier League sides have fallen already that beating AFC Wimbledon in the fifth round could open an inviting passageway to at least a Wembley semi-final.
But Gregory is taking nothing for granted after the Dons usurped Millwall for the biggest upset last weekend – outplaying West Ham United and winning 4-2 at the Cherry Red Records Stadium.
“It just shows what we’re up against in the next round,” said the Lions man. “We’ve got a good idea now – it’s a tough draw.
“We played them when we were in League One, it’s a tough ground to go to. The FA Cup is always hard. It’s not an easy draw for us – at all.”