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Harris: "I'm delighted for my players, they worked tirelessly"

Manager commends disciplined display after win against Aston Villa

6 October 2018

Neil Harris has described his team's performance as 'disciplined and tireless' after The Lions came from behind to beat Aston Villa 2-1 at The Den on Saturday afternoon.

Managerless Villa took an early lead through Tammy Abraham, but goals from Shane Ferguson and Tom Elliott either side of the break secured the points for Harris' men.

"It's a nice feeling - it was [long overdue]," the manager says.

"I'm delighted for my players who worked tirelessly, we dug in and showed character. We played like a Millwall team at The Den, and that's important."

Harris touches on the potential turning of some elements of poor luck so far this campaign, and credits the way his team defended through attack late on.

"We'd had some horrendous luck - we must be right at the top of the tree for teams hitting the woodwork this season.

"We can argue until the cows come home about why we've conceded late goals, but ultimately, if you play in the opponents' half for the last 10 minutes, they can't score."

The boss lauds the attitude of his team as they look to escape their frustrating start to the season, and says the upcoming international break is a timely opportunity for reflection.

"The boys have been great. We've talked about the character and attitude to train and positivity in the group - it's first-class. You wouldn't know if we were top or bottom of the league [with their attitude], they're just brilliant lads.

"We know why we won't be at the top of this league, so we make the most of things and get on with it.

"We have a timely boost in the next two weeks when we can reflect on where we've gone wrong early on and look at individual performances."

Harris has spoken of the importance of suiting players' strengths, and pinpoints the man-of-the-match display of the in-form Lee Gregory as an example.

"I've talked about some players not being up to their standards, but in the last two games every player has played almost to the best of their ability.

"It's no surprise that we've had two top performances - should have had six points but we have four - and that's the standard we will look to continue. Sometimes it's best just to go back to basics and remind players what they're good at, and remind the team what individuals are good at. We got our reward for that today.

"Lee Gregory was outstanding today - he's been in goalscoring form, and we've played to his strengths in recent games."

The manager then adds on his credit of the defensive performance of his team, and says that work on the training pitch is paying off with the side's organisation.

"Defensively we looked really solid - Ben [Amos] dealt with a couple of long-range shorts very well, but we were organised and disciplined. Law of averages says that if teams can only have three shots against you, you can't keep conceding goals. That clean sheet mentality is where we want to be.

"That discipline among the players is down to hard work on the training pitch, it doesn't just happen."

Harris concludes by stating that his preparation for the game was slightly blurred by the departure of former Villa manager Steve Bruce in midweek, but that concentrating on themselves was key to picking up the victory.

"We're delighted with three points today against a club of the stature of Aston Villa, and players of those abilities.

"We weren't really to know how Villa would approach the game [having changed management]. We had to focus on ourselves and today I thought it was all about us, and how good we were."

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