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Harris lauds defensive display after Pride Park victory

Manager speaks in glowing terms of his side after three points at Derby County

20 February 2019

Neil Harris has lauded Millwall's heart and determination to secure a 1-0 victory over Derby County at Pride Park, describing the team as putting in one of their greatest overall defensive displays.

Jed Wallace's second-half winner secured a seventh win in 12 matches, moved The Lions five points clear of the Sky Bet Championship drop zone and recorded a fourth clean sheet in five games.

The manager has spoken very highly of how his squad approached the task against a very strong home side in Derby.

"We knew their home record was very good, right up there among the top few," Harris says.

"They've scored goals here and not conceded many, and they've got some great players. We just sensed we have that spark back in us again and that doggedness - those noughts and ones are so important at this level and have that clean sheet mentality. Then I talked to the players about having that belief and clinical edge - yes, we've not scored a lot of goals in the League recently, so when those moments do come along you have to take them. We set the team up to counter like we did, and it was a great counter-attacking goal from Jed whose performance was excellent.

"And then at the other end, it was the 93rd minute before they had an effort on target. The all-round defensive display was one of the best while I've been in charge - the organisation and discipline, and the desire to stick to the gameplan was first-class by the players. It was a slightly different setup in that Jed went inside and Fergie went onto the right, and I think it worked out really well and that we were so solid defensively."

Harris also comments on the attacking play of The Lions, and speaks of the psychological preparation ahead of facing Frank Lampard's side.

"We looked a good team whenever Lee Gregory was able to link up play. It's hard when you play there on your own as we've asked Lee to recently, but tonight he showed a performance of how to play up front as a lone striker. I was able to bring him off after 75 minutes as he was touch-and-go for the game, and I was then able to get 15 minutes into Tom [Elliott].

"But I think it's unfair to single players out, as a group the players have been outstanding in their belief. Steve Morison spoke really well in the dressing room before the game about the feeling back within the group again. It just comes from confidence and the desire to want to do well, and also the trust in each other."

The boss highlights the recent turn in form, and looks ahead to another challenging contest against in-form Preston North End at The Den on Saturday.

"I had to defend the players a little bit last week after the Sheffield Wednesday game about not scoring many goals, but what I can say is that it's now two defeats in 12 and seven wins. For a team not at the right end of the division, and the games we've had, that's an excellent record.

"I said to the boys that the temperament and professionalism after Wimbledon was outstanding, and we followed it up tonight. We now face Preston on Saturday who are a really hard-working side, bang in form, and who we had two really tough drawn games with last season. They got the better of us at Deepdale because of their first-half display, and it will be another really tough game which we certainly look forward to."

With the win in the East Midlands representing the fifth of seven games across February, Harris has played down the concerns of fatigue and claims the heart of the team is helping to carry them through the demanding schedule.

The manager also touches on proving a point to many in the Championship and exhibiting the discipline and professionalism of his Millwall side.

"When you get three points at a place like this, tiredness doesn't matter. We get back late tonight, and tomorrow we reassess, some players will train, and then on Friday we start preparing for Preston.

"At the moment, it's about recovery and preparation, and heart and determination. The whole of the Championship will be looking at us wondering if we can match reaching the Quarter-Finals of the FA Cup with a good League display, or if we will fall away on the Wednesday after the Saturday game.

"There will be a lot of managers watching that disappointed by tonight's result, and that's a credit to my players."

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