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Harris discusses narrow Villa defeat

The boss talks over the 1-0 loss at Villa Park and looks ahead to next weekend

22 April 2019

Neil Harris says his Millwall players should be praised for their display against a tough opposition in Aston Villa, as Dean Smith's side won by a solitary goal at Villa Park on Monday afternoon.

The manager does however bemoan the way in which The Lions conceded Jonathan Kodjia's decisive first-half goal, which keeps his side 21st in the Sky Bet Championship with three games to play.

"I'm a little bit dejected at the moment, because we lost the game and in the manner we conceded the goal," Harris says.

"Villa, as you would expect from the home team who have now won 10 in a row, started the game really well and were on the front foot. They put us under pressure, but we grew into the game and I thought we dominated the game for the next 15-20 minutes. We should have scored from a corner after winning the first contact - our anticipation has to be better in the penalty area there.

"So we should have had our noses in front, and it would have been a different game. But my two real gripes from the afternoon are firstly the goal - it's poor by us, no bones about that - and secondly that the substitutions we made didn't have the desired effect. For the goal we lost the first contact from our throw-in, then missed the tackle, and then we opened up against Villa."

The boss elaborates on his analysis of the encounter, crediting Smith's squad as they made it 10 successive Championship victories.

"I certainly credit my players with the performance, as this is never an easy place to come as it is, but now Villa are on 10 straight wins and have top players who will be playing at the next level.

"I'm glad we stayed in the game, but frustrated with how much of a poor goal it was for us to concede after the amount of good shape we had and our excellent team pattern with and without the ball.

"It should have been 0-0 going into the end, and we wouldn't have had to open up. But credit must go to Villa, who are currently achieving something brilliant at any level, not just the Championship."

Harris was quick to laud goalkeeper Dave Martin, who made a string of second-half saves to prevent Villa extending their lead on the break as The Lions chased the game.

"I'm delighted for a strong performance from Dave today, whose handling was excellent.

"It was probably an even better display from him today than when he made his League debut for us here last season. He deserved a clean sheet.

"Dave's putting in really strong performances. When you want players to step up at this stage of the season, and to try and prove themselves and try and earn a new contract, then he can't do much more at the moment."

Ben Thompson was Harris' only enforced change for the contest, after the midfielder limped off in Friday's draw with Brentford at The Den.

"Thommo's scan is due tomorrow [Tuesday], because he was injured on Good Friday and tomorrow is the soonest we can get a scan," Harris explains.

"But I must say, the likelihood is that he won't play again this season."

Finally, the manager points out how his side have been able to stand toe-to-toe with some of the division's best opponents, and maintains that The Lions' survival fate hinges on two huge remaining fixtures at The Den.

"We competed with Villa today, although we weren't good enough on the day to win the game. We have six points from four games, and before that we lost games at places like Leeds where we were outstanding.

"Some of the players could have been better individually today, but we've picked up some good points on a tough run.

"Once the Bristol City game got rearranged, I knew our season would be defined by our two remaining home games against them and firstly Stoke, and nothing has changed - whatever Rotherham or anyone else do."


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