Thursday, April 25, 2024

Millwall’s heart impresses Neil Harris as he masterminds a big win on his return

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 24 Feb 2024

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Neil Harris hopes Millwall’s “heart” on his return can be the catalyst to keep them in the Sky Bet Championship after masterminding a 2-1 victory over Southampton.

Club legend Harris answered the Lions’ SOS after Joe Edwards was sacked this week to begin a fourth stint at the south-east London club.

He was rewarded with Tottenham loanee Japhet Tanganga bagging his first professional goal for the club and Zian Flemming stroking in from the penalty spot.

Harris was serenaded with chants of “Super Neil Harris” throughout and said: “Thank you to the fan-base, not just for my welcome that they gave me on the touchline but also for supporting my players like that.

“That’s what we need between now and the end of the season.

“The fans needed that performance and that result – in unison that is a great result for this club.

“Millwall teams always have to find a way, they’ve always had to find a way.

“Some of the performances were some of the best performances of the season for some individuals.

“You don’t have to be the best player in the pitch to be appreciated by the fans at the Den. You have to epitomise what a Millwall fan would do if they were on the pitch.

“That was me, I was never the best player on the pitch but I always worked harder than everyone else on it.

“That’s the message I have put in and then build a way around the ball with that. When the chips are down it is about heart, and we had that in abundance today.”

Tanganga bravely nodded in George Saville’s long floated free-kick in the fifth minute to give the Lions a shock lead.

Che Adams hit back for Saints when he glanced Stuart Armstrong’s delightful delivery into the box under the goalkeeper.

But after Jan Bednarek’s handball just before half time, Flemming sent Gavin Bazunu the wrong way to secure Millwall’s first win since New Year’s Day.

Harris said he could have praised each of his players but picked out Tanganga’s performance in both boxes for a special mention.

He said: “If he wants to be a Millwall centre-half he has to be brave at both ends of the pitch.

“I thought we defended our box superbly today and Japhet was outstanding, absolutely excellent.”

Southampton have now lost three of their last four matches to bring their club-record 25-game unbeaten run to a shuddering stop.

Angry Russell Martin, who saw his side fall five points behind second-placed Leeds, said: “We’ll be fine [in the promotion race].

“We’ve got eight weeks left of the season and still have the chance to be incredibly exciting and get rewarded but like we did before we have to stand up and be counted now.

“We will work hard to find a way through and make sure this run doesn’t last too long.

“We concede two crap goals. That’s it today.

“We had three massive chances and should score. It’s not normal to create that many big chances against a team in a low block.

“We should score but don’t. It’s nothing to do with tactics. If people want to talk about all that stuff, it’s not that. We conceded two rubbish goals.

“How we don’t deal with the free-kick, I don’t know. Maybe there is an offside, I haven’t seen it but the feeling from the analysts is that there is. It’s a floated cross and it loops into our goal.

“For the second goal, we don’t clear it twice and it ends up across our box for a penalty. That is the story of the game, nothing else – not tactics.”

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