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Harris: "I'm so proud of how the players represented their club"

Manager reflects on reaching second Quarter-Final in three years

16 February 2019

Neil Harris has exhibited his pride in his Millwall team this afternoon as The Lions reached their second Emirates FA Cup Quarter-Final in three seasons with a 1-0 win at AFC Wimbledon.

Murray Wallace netted the winner for the second consecutive round as The Lions nicked in front inside five minutes, and Harris has described his players as "digging in" for a crucial Cup victory.

"I'm so proud of the way the players represented their club today, with the way they dug in," the manager says.

"It's not easy coming here and being expected to win. How many times have we beaten teams in higher divisions in the Cup having risen to the occasion when they're expected to beat us?

"We knew Wimbledon would be good and the game would be competitive. If I'm being honest it was ugly at times, but all that matters in Cup football is getting through. We got ourselves a clean sheet and scored a good goal - could have had three or four more - and it's a great effort by the boys."

The boss gives a special mention to defender Wallace, crediting his "professionalism and desire" to step up to the plate once more - and also expresses his delight at Tom Elliott's return from a dislocated shoulder against his former employers.

"Murray's a popular lad, and the boys have been making a meal of him in the dressing room! That's his professionalism, his desire - I asked before the game for heroes and someone to step up - and Murray as he did against Everton has done it again today.

"I'm pleased with the goal and the chances we created at times, but I'm especially happy with the clean sheet. Yes, they hit the post early on, we had a few chances, but I never felt under any pressure to make subs earlier or anything like that.

"I'm delighted for Big T [Tom Elliott] to get back out on the pitch as well - it was just a solid all-round performance."

Harris claims The Lions could have shown more calmness in the tie, but says the right attributes were capitalised on when needed to do enough to win the game.

"I think we could have been a little calmer at times, as when we did get the ball on the floor and pass it and were patient, we created some good openings. We had more chances on the counter-attack in the second half, but maybe in the first half we got rid of the ball a bit too quickly at times.

"The one moment in the first half where we showed that real composure, Lenny [Ryan Leonard] puts in a terrific ball, and there was that desire from our left-back to pop up and head it into the net.

"That's what you need in games like this."

With Sky Bet Championship rivals playing various League fixtures this weekend, the manager has explained that the primary focus remains on moving away from the danger areas in the division.

"I said to the boys that that's now 11 games: six wins, three draws and two defeats. That's my answer to the questions about scoring, about our performances. Yes, we want to climb away from the bottom reaches of the division, and we have a chance to do that on Wednesday night.

"The boys' main interest was what the results were in the League, that's where their heads are at. We switched our attention away from Tuesday night to the Cup, and now we switch our attention very quickly back to the League.

"The players are fully aware of what I expect from them in training in the next few days and how hard we'll have to work going into Derby and the talent they have, but the momentum from today will certainly carry us forward."

Harris finally makes his preferences clear for the next round, and lauds the Cup pedigree of Millwall as a club in recent years.

"Anyone at The Den," the boss exclaims.

"It's fantastic to play in another Quarter-Final, it's the fourth time in 15 years as a club, and what an achievement that is for a club at our level.

"It doesn't just happen as a coincidence, it happens because of what we are as a group, fanbase, board, staff and players. We have a growing affinity with this competition. Being at The Den in the next round is important for me."

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