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2017/18 Season Review: Ex-Premier League sides held as Millwall gather momentum

Review of November...

15 May 2018

Jed Wallace saw red as 10-man Millwall began November with a smash-and-grab defeat to lowly Burton Albion.

On an afternoon in which The Lions dominated, Marvin Sordell's second half strike - The Brewers' only shot on target - condemned Millwall to a loss.

The biggest talking point of the game came on 59 minutes, as referee Tony Harrington showed Wallace a straight red card for bringing down Tom Flanagan. The tackle was cynical and perhaps warranted a yellow card at best, but the winger was given his marching orders.

Neil Harris opted to steer clear of any criticism for the officials post-match, instead directing his frustration at his team.

"The first goal was also going to be vital and after we didn't get it, plus the red card, that gave us a mountain to climb," he said. "I'm disappointed with the quality in the group and that we haven't scored a goal at home. My frustration is borne out of my players letting themselves down.

"The sending off is a pivotal one, because we're at 0-0, at home, in a game we're completely on top of and never look like conceding a goal or losing the game - and that changed the game.

"I've spoken to my players and they're in no uncertain terms of where I'm coming from."

After a third international break the long trip to struggling Sunderland - without a home win in 2017 - offered The Lions a chance for redemption, but a crazy afternoon full of goalkeeping errors saw the sides share a point.

George Saville's double of free-kicks put Millwall 2-1 up after Lewis Grabban had given The Mackems the lead, but a strange turn of events saw Adam Matthews' cross hit the back of the net early in the second half to level the scores.

"Yes, it's a point gained, but I'm also disappointed," said Harris in the wake of the draw. 

"We've come to Sunderland with the thought process of 'poor home record and no manager', but they have some fantastic players, and that gets lost on a lot of people. We knew it was going to be a tough challenge - we knew there'd be times where the crowd would be with them and there would be times where the crowd would be against them.

"To go behind and get ourselves in front, goalkeeping errors or not, is an achievement. Leading up until half-time was strong and I said to the boys at half-time that the second half would be vital. We needed to kill the game and then I fancied us to go on and get a third and a fourth. 

"To then give a silly second goal away - your backs are to the wall again."

Hull City came to The Den just three days later with both sides cancelling each other out in a goalless draw, whilst the month ended with the short journey across the River Thames to Fulham.

Conor McLaughlin's apparent pull on Rui Fonte prompted referee Paul Tierney to point to the penalty spot in first half stoppage time, with Oliver Norwood converting the resulting spot-kick to give The Whites all three points.

Yet again, The Lions huffed, puffed and more than matched their opponents, but to no avail.

The boss praised the travelling hordes after the game, but also bemoaned his side's "lack of anticipation."

"We got a standing ovation as we came off from what was a brilliant fanbase, but we've got no points - that's the frustrating thing for everyone. Where we need to improve is those tight areas, where we need to anticipate better. We have to keep improving and keep adding to the squad with quality.

"Fulham got in some great areas and Jordan's made some great saves. The stats show they've had four shots from distance, but other than that, they've created nothing. For us, Tom (Elliott) has hit the post in the first half, Sav (George Saville) has hit the post in the second half - we've had nine balls bounce in our six-yard box - that's what I mean by anticipation."

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