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Harris: "We should have taken all three points"

Manager has his say following 1-1 draw at the Riverside

24 August 2019

Neil Harris says Millwall were the better team on Saturday afternoon against Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium, and whilst he is pleased to take a point home from Teesside, The Lions should have won the contest.

Harris' side sit 10th in the Sky Bet Championship after Tom Bradshaw struck immediately from the bench 14 minutes from time, following Paddy McNair's opener for Jonathan Woodgate's Boro'.

"There are two ways of looking at it," the manager says.

"Firstly, it's a good comeback again at a big club in Middlesbrough. We go behind to a good goal from their perspective - poor defensively from ours - and we score to earn a point. However, you can look at it and say we should really have won by a cricket score. Everyone on Wednesday night wanted to chuck stats at me, and today we battered Boro' and were the better side.

"Matt Smith will never walk off the pitch without a matchball like that again, and he came in apologising. But he's won us points this season and will continue to win us points. The pleasing thing for me is that we created those chances, and in the first half we really opened Boro' up with some of the best football we've played so far this season. We're pleased with a point, but definitely could have had three."

Harris praises the instant impact of Bradshaw, who netted his first League goal for The Lions and followed on from the opening of his account against West Bromwich Albion in the Carabao Cup, after his lengthy spell on the sidelines last campaign.

The boss also touches on the encouraging opening to the season, with his team having picked up positive results against tough opponents early on.

"Tom's a goalscorer and he's very dangerous in the six-yard box. You want your goalscorers on the pitch when the ball comes into the area, and I'm really pleased for Bradders.

"The atmosphere in the stadium was probably because of our first-half performance. Jonathan [Woodgate] has come in and started a rebuilding process like we had to do, and it takes time. Their fans were patient with their team.

"We've been expected not to get anything at places like this. Fulham were much better than us last Wednesday, but we've gone and got good results at West Brom twice, and now we've gone to Boro' and drawn a game we should have won. We'll look to do the same at Oxford on Tuesday and continue to try and win at home."

Harris had to watch more than half of the match from the stands at the Riverside, after an incident in the Middlesbrough technical area late in the first half which saw the referee issue the manager with a red card.

"I shouldn't have gone into their technical area to start with," he admits.

"Their coach had the ball in his arm and I've just tried to knock it out of his arm. He has shifted himself and I've caught his arm.

"There's no great dramas - I shouldn't have gone into their technical area - I don't really know what constitutes a red card offence for a manager these days."

With Millwall still in the top half of the League ahead of the side's Carabao Cup Second Round visit to Oxford United on Tuesday evening, Harris expands on what he has expected from his group of players.

"We're really pleased. We've picked up eight points from five games and that's a good return.

"If you look at the teams we've played, we have faced good sides and had no easy ride - there isn't an easy ride in the Championship. But we can be better. We had a meeting on Friday about the defeat at Fulham, and we didn't show the players the goals - we showed them how poor we were with the ball at times.

"We showed quality with the ball today and created opportunities, and that's more like the Millwall team I saw in pre-season and at the start of the season. We have to make sure we get the balance right between being direct and a handful, but being able to play as well, and causing teams problems. Today we got the balance pretty much right, but we're a work in progress. We want to get through on Tuesday and then we have a massive home game against Hull next week."

The boss wraps up by giving an update on his squad's bill of health - namely Jiri Skalak's ankle injury picked up at Fulham.

"It's good news with Jiri in the sense that he hasn't picked up any serious damage.

"We'll still have to assess him as we go. Jed has obviously been missing too, but we'll just have to look at the squad as we move forward."

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