Millwall boss Harris hails his battling 10 men
Strong second half display earns Lions a point against Sheffield Wednesday.
Millwall boss Neil Harris hailed the character of his squad after they played more than half the match with 10 men to grind out a 1-0 win against Sheffield Wednesday at The Den thanks to Matt Smith’s 37th-minute header.
The visitors had 70% possession and 21 shots but were unable to find a way through an obdurate Millwall rearguard
Harris said: “That’s a Millwall result if ever you saw one. Sheffield Wednesday had a lot of the ball without really causing us problems other than an Adam Reach moment of near genius.
“They’re going to dominate the ball, get the ball in the box and in Steven Fletcher and Jordan Rhodes, they’ve got top players.
“But I’d give credit to my players because we had a really strong second half. To stand strong against that quality of opponent in the form they’re in is impressive.”
Despite losing Jed Wallace just before the break following his challenge on Kieran Lee, the hosts maintained a solid defensive structure and Harris provided some insight into his tactical thinking to tame the Owls’ livewire winger Kadeem Harris.
The Lions boss explained: “We felt it was important we played in the 4-4-1, if anything to help Mahlon Romeo against Harris.
“I was disappointed to have to take Matty Smith off. He had an excellent first half but chasing Barry Bannan around is not his game really.
“If there’s any team who can play with 10 men and two banks of four against 11 men, it’s us.”
Harris was unhappy with the attitude and application of some his squad last season and has noticed a difference already in the current campaign.
“Last August wasn’t a good window for us and when we started losing and letting in late goals it becomes a snowball effect and it’s hard to stop.
“We dug in over the course of the season, regrouped in the summer, made the changes I wanted to implement and we got a new group of players and a new mentality. You’re seeing that in the performances.”
Neither manager held strong opinions on Wallace’s dismissal, but Wednesday’s Lee Bullen rued his side’s inability to turn domination of the ball into clear-cut chances.
He said: “Millwall deserve a lot of credit for what they’ve done today, to hang on for that length of time under the pressure they faced.
“I would like to think in future games that if we get nine shots on target, we can put two or three of those away.
“It wasn’t to be today. We made a mistake for the goal and it feels like we’ve been sucker-punched. We’ve just got to take a deep breath, relax, and not get too low after that, because there were a lot of positives from that game.”
Wednesday’s caretaker boss said the decision to leave Fernando Forestieri out of the squad was tactical and that he is in the frame for Tuesday’s visit of Luton.
On his own future, Bullen added. “I’m delighted to have the opportunity to be caretaker.
“All I’m focused on is the next game and that’s all I’ll focus on until the chairman wants to have the conversation.
“He obviously feels we’re doing allr ight at the moment, because he would have made a decision otherwise.”