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Neil Harris praises Japhet Tanganga after scoring late Millwall winner

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 9 Mar 2024

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Tottenham loanee Japhet Tanganga is turning himself into a hero under Millwall manager Neil Harris after his late header snatched a crucial victory over fellow Sky Bet Championship strugglers Birmingham.

It was a second goal in Lions colours for Tanganga, 24, who scored the first goal of his senior career in Harris’ first game back in charge at Southampton two weeks ago.

Millwall have now won three of their four games under Harris, who has quickly turned around their form to open up a five-point gap between them and the relegation zone.

Harris said: “Japh’s got great pedigree, he’s got a great CV in terms of games at the top level and playing in Europe, and things like that.

“It’s slightly different here for a centre-half and sometimes you have to be a different player here, and the reason I’m at the football club is to try and teach the players what a Millwall player looks like, whether that’s a goalkeeper or a centre-half or a centre-forward.

“All I said to Japh was – not complicated his game – just to make your decisions and I’ll support you, but you can be as aggressive as you like.

“A couple of his tackles were a little bit dubious here against Watford and away at Southampton in the first five minutes, but he shows that he’s buying into it.

“Ultimately, he’s headed the ball a lot (in both boxes) and to be a good Millwall centre-half you have to do that.”

Millwall started the better side, with Birmingham goalkeeper John Ruddy having to make good saves to deny George Honeyman and Jake Cooper in the first 20 minutes.

Jay Stansfield was then denied by Matija Sarkic just before half-time and hit a great chance wide early in the second half.

He then felt he should have been awarded a penalty after 63 minutes when Millwall’s Joe Bryan appeared to hold him back from Juninho Bacuna’s corner.

The Lions wildly celebrated when their winner came in the 90th minute as Tanganga rose to head in George Saville’s corner.

Birmingham remain only one point above the bottom three and caretaker boss Mark Venus has just one point from four games since taking the reins after manager Tony Mowbray temporarily stepped aside for medical reasons.

Venus, whose side could drop below third-from-bottom Huddersfield if they beat West Brom on Sunday, said on the Blues’ penalty shout: “I don’t want to sit here and pick holes in officials.

“They are what they are in this country and I’m sure everyone has their own opinion of them.

“Everyone has their own opinion of what happened, the incident, and they can make their own mind up.

“I think in the second half we got on top.

“I think in the first half we were too timid, we didn’t influence, we didn’t hurt their goal enough and I think in the second half we had a lot more purpose, more intensity.

“We took the game to them and we had some opportunities to hit the target, to score, to shoot, and we squandered them, really.

“I think they’ve got the stomach for the fight – they showed that in the second half.

“I think they just have to learn to do the basics a bit better and learn to make the right decisions.”

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