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Harris reflects on frustrating afternoon at Deepdale

Manager rues manner of goals conceded

15 December 2018

Neil Harris has described Saturday afternoon's defeat at Preston North End as 'Groundhog Day', after creating several key chances but going down by a 3-2 scoreline.

Two rare breaks into the box from Preston saw Alan Browne and Tom Barkhuizen fire the hosts into a 2-0 half-time lead at Deepdale, before Jake Cooper headed The Lions back into the game.

A deflected Andrew Hughes free-kick extended the buffer for Alex Neil's side despite a host of Millwall opportunities at the other end, with Lee Gregory rounding off the scoring with a consolation in stoppage time.

Harris has highlighted defensive frustrations as the key factor in a disappointing run this season, something he states is costly at Championship level.

"I have to be honest, it is our Groundhog Day," Harris says.

"We conceded five or six chances all game and Preston have scored three goals; we've created 10 clear-cut chances, only scored two and taken nothing from the game.

"The two occasions in the first half they got anywhere near our area, we've found ourselves 2-0 down. It's defending that you can get away with in the lower leagues, but not at this level. We kept giving ourselves a mountain to climb."

The introduction of Shane Ferguson at the interval sparked Millwall into life, finding the net through Cooper from the winger's cross and considerably gaining the front foot, but the final 10 minutes saw Preston convert their third through Hughes' set-piece.

"I thought after a change in shape and personnel, bringing Fergie on at half-time, we were absolutely excellent," the manager claims.

"We put pressure on them, created a lot of chances, but we needed to score five or six in that second half.

"Just when we thought we'd have a right go in the last 10 minutes, we concede a third goal. If you ever wanted 90 minutes to sum up our season so far, that was it in a nutshell."

Harris insists that unity is the most important aspect to moving forward, but acknowledges responsbility must be taken to seek a recovery at Stoke City next weekend.

"I can't keep putting it down to bad luck - players have to take responsibility. That dressing room has a great camaraderie, they're great lads and I love working with them every day. We're scoring more goals than we did last year, creating more chances than we did last year, more percentage of play - but we're conceding too many, and that's the bottom line.

"When I was a player and going through difficult spells, you just want the backing of your manager and your supporters. And the players know I support them, the fans have been brilliant, and I understood their frustration at half-time today.

"Yes, we have to stick together, and maybe slipping into the bottom three tonight will be the best thing that happens to us, as much as it pains me to say it. When the players wake up and smell the coffee, we have to defend better. We have a real tough game next week at Stoke - a side with probably five or 10 times our budget - and we have to go and compete."


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