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Harris: “We need to follow this up by finishing the Christmas break well”

Manager reflects on Forest victory and looks ahead to Ipswich visit

29 December 2018

Neil Harris has praised the performance of his Millwall players after securing a second 1-0 victory in three days at The Den against Nottingham Forest.

A stunning early strike from Ryan Tunnicliffe decided the game in The Lions’ favour, replicating Jed Wallace’s superb free-kick at a similar period against Reading on Boxing Day.

“Again, we got the job done,” Harris says.

“Against Reading, it was nervy and tough playing against 10 men, and I was really proud of the character we showed. Today was different – the atmosphere was different, being the underdog despite being at home, playing against a big club with good away support.

“The noise in the stadium was outstanding, we got the early goal and we were terrific in the first half. We played in really good areas, created chances and looked a real threat every time we went forward.”

The boss is keen to continue improving, and has highlighted the strengths we must play to.

“We could have been better in the second half – especially with the ball – which was similar to Reading in some respects, but I think the other day took a lot out the legs of the players. Forest changed it up to a 3-5-2, so we matched them up and I thought we were a lot better.

“With just a little bit more care in the final third – there was certainly Moro [Steve Morison]’s chance – and around the set-pieces, we could have gone on and scored two or three.

“I spoke long and hard with the players about how we have the most first contacts in the penalty area in the country, and that we need to be better and score more goals with our second contacts. I’ve spoken about everybody being involved in that – centre-halves, centre-forwards and midfielders.”

Harris has lauded the ability of Tunnicliffe to convert his acrobatic strike, and commends the defensive nous of The Lions along with the contribution of both sets of supporters.

“[Ryan Tunnicliffe’s] goal was a class finish, same as Jed [Wallace]’s the other day – worthy of winning any game. The fans today were phenomenal with the atmosphere they generated, and the game was a great advert for the Championship.

“It’s two clean sheets in a row. Again, Jordan [Archer] had little to do, and the back four which became a back five with Fergie [Shane Ferguson] was outstanding.

“Lee [Gregory] and Tom [Elliott] came off – it was a second game in three days for them, but we’re getting more aggressive here at The Den, where we’re putting really good teams under pressure.”

The manager finally looks ahead to New Year’s Day’s visit to Portman Road to face Ipswich Town – a game he expects to be a real challenge but one that his side’s first away win of the campaign can arrive from.

“[Ipswich] brings another challenge away from home, and we need this first away win – we can’t just rely on getting results at home. Again, we look a lot healthier with two victories in a short space of time. I’ve said to the players that it’s great what we’ve done in the last few days, but it must be followed up by finishing this Christmas period off well.

“We need to really impose ourselves on Ipswich, who are playing well and implementing a style, playing really good football. We’ll take great confidence from these two victories.”

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