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Harris reflects on Oxford tie

Read from the boss from the Kassam Stadium...

27 August 2019

Neil Harris has praised the performance of his Millwall side in the team's penalty shootout defeat at Oxford United, but states his disappointment at letting slip a two-goal advantage late on.

Jon Dadi Bodvarsson's double looked to have sealed The Lions' passage into the Third Round of the Carabao Cup at the Kassam Stadium, but for Mark Sykes' deflected goal and James Henry's penalty, before The Us won 4-2 on spot-kicks.

"I thought the performance was outstanding - a real dominant display," Harris said to millwallfc.co.uk.

"Anyone here saw that. The use of the ball which we've only seen in glimpses this season was there for the majority of the game, the chances we created, and we should have been out of sight really.

"We're disappointed. The first goal was a deflection - it was going straight through to Steeley and deflects into the goal - and the penalty perhaps looked soft. But the defending has to be better than that."

The manager lauds the impact of Iceland striker Bodvarsson after his first goals for the club, alongside several of his teammates.

"Jon was outstanding, and there were some brilliat individual performances on show as well as the team performance. Jon led the line superbly with great support from Tom Elliott.

"Billy Mitchell on his full debut was class, Jayson Molumby showed great energy, desire and quality, and it probably makes it even tougher to take after there were so many good displays.

"You feel you've really been sucker-punched - I picked a team that was experienced enough to see a game out like that - but also one with the quality and youthfulness required. Games are decided on penalty shootouts, but not won and lost on them."

Harris then explains the decisions behind his team selection and setup.

"I picked players tonight who deserved an opportunity and deserved to be in the team, and it's a warning to other players if they're not at the top of their game.

"I wanted to change shape and go for a diamond - I keep saying I want to change shape and personnel, and it was excellent. Oxford changed to match us up, but we still dominated the ball. I can't fault the players - it was just a case of a deflected goal and then a poor penalty to give away."

The Lions' next challenge rounds off August with Hull City's Sky Bet Championship visit to The Den - a contest Harris is as ever relishing.

"The two home games have been brilliant so far and we look forward to getting back to The Den against Hull. Preston was an even game in which the crowd carried us through after scoring a good goal. Sheffield Wednesday - we scored a Millwall-type goal and then the atmosphere in the stadium was unbelievable.

"We're looking to create the same atmosphere, the same vibe in the dressing room, and carry that onto the pitch. Hull will be a difficult test - we'll freshen the team up again and make some changes to the side - and we'll look at their formation and the shape we want to set up with.

"But the players are in form, and that's the pleasing thing. I'm disappointed of course to go out to Oxford, but the manner of the performance here and at Middlesbrough, and the results we've gained so far, it's been a great effort from the boys. I want to go into the international break on a real high with a strong Den display and result."

The boss finally gives an update on Jiri Skalak, along with Jed Wallace's expected return from suspension.

"Jiri it's still early days with, but he does have an outside chance for Saturday.

"Jed's of course available, and he's chomping at the bit to come back in and put right his error of judgement.

"We'll also see about Tom Bradshaw who wasn't in the squad tonight, but there will certainly be a freshness to the side."


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