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Harris: "It's very important we stick together"

Manager analyses Birmingham defeat and is adamant of an improved display on Sunday

28 November 2018

Neil Harris has emphasised the importance of unity after Wednesday night’s 2-0 defeat to Birmingham City at The Den.

The Lions were left with a numerical disadvantage for much of the game after the dismissal of Ryan Leonard for two bookings, and Garry Monk’s Blues saw the game out to take the three points.

Harris says the team “had a right go”, and points at Sunday’s visit to Bristol City as an opportunity to improve on our away form.

“It’s very important we stick together,” Harris declares.

“We’ve been poor away from home, but at The Den our performances have generally been very good. Sheffield United deserved to win here, we had defensive lapses against Swansea City – something we’ve talked about quite a lot lately – but we’ve been very good in our other games here.

“Tonight, we had a right go with 10 players. I’m not saying a ‘right go’ is enough at this club, it’s the bare minimum, but the problem we’ve had is that our poor away results have put pressure on our home games. We have to ease the pressure on our home games by picking up points on the road.”

An adamant Harris is assured his side will find a solution to tilt results back our way, and says it is vital that The Lions put in a capable and solid display at Ashton Gate.

“Last year, we found a way of easing the pressure and improving away from home, and now we have to do that again. We’re in a tricky spell at the moment, we also had a tricky spell in September which we got out of in October.

“We’ll find a way. The support has been excellent, and we need the fans to stick with us. As we can all see, it’s through no lack of effort. We have to go into a tough game at Bristol City which I can’t wait for – I’d love us to play tomorrow if that were possible – and we need to go down there and give a right good account of ourselves.”

The manager then outlines the problems early on which enabled Monk’s side to take the lead.

“The second goal was just poor from a set-play – tired legs, probably tired minds. I’ve got to be honest, when we were 11v11 we simply weren’t good enough. We were physically dominated here at The Den by Birmingham.

“The players knew what to expect – for whatever reason, we weren’t front-foot, weren’t aggressive and didn’t win second balls.  Birmingham were better than us for 25 minutes.”

Harris credits the fans for the support following Leonard’s dismissal, and stresses that his side must return to the ‘resolute’ team he has previously witnessed.

“The red card galvanised us in a way. We were probably the better team after going a man down.  The crowd got behind us, and we gave it a right go – I’m really proud of the players for that. But the first goal was such poor defending as a unit. We weren’t good enough in the first half, and when you’re not good enough, you have to stay in it.

“We have to get back to doing the basics, and being that resolute, horrible, disciplined Millwall team that have been so good for so long.

“We’ll have to look back at the game and training. I don’t think Birmingham really had chances, it was just the fact we were second to things and didn’t win first contacts. It’s nothing like us.”

The boss finally gives an update on Lee Gregory’s condition, after the striker came off in the closing stages with a muscular injury.

“Gregs had a tight muscle around the groin and stomach area, so we’ll have to see how that one goes.”

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