Ryan Leonard has reflected on a “massive win” on Saturday evening as Millwall overcame Everton in dramatic circumstances to reach the Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round.
The midfielder was one of Neil Harris’ key performers as The Lions secured a late 3-2 victory at The Den, ahead of a crucial February in the Sky Bet Championship.
“It was one hell of an evening for us as players, and together as a football club,” Leonard says.
“It was brilliant to go and get a massive win over one of the biggest teams in the country, and it’s important to build on it.
“Confidence has been up for a couple of months now. The game at the weekend was another build-up of the confidence that has grown around the place. If we continue that over the next run of games, it will really help us, and a Cup run will really do the club well.”
The Lions were drawn to visit AFC Wimbledon in Round Five following their upset against West Ham United – a tie Leonard is eager for.
“It’s an interesting draw for us, it’s difficult at this stage because whoever you face will be a tough opponent.
“I’ve played at Wimbledon a number of times, and it’s a hard place to go. There’s a tight stadium, a tight pitch, and I know a few of their lads as well.
“We can’t complain with it being quite a local game either, and it will definitely be an interesting one.”
Despite Millwall’s Cup exploits, the team return to League action this weekend as Rotherham United make the trip to South London just four points behind The Lions.
“The Rotherham game is bigger for us than the Everton game was,” Leonard states.
“We all know that as the manager has reiterated to us how much of a massive opportunity it is. We need to go into it with the same belief and an atmosphere like we created on Saturday, and try to get the three points.
“But listen, it will be a really tough game, and we know that as players. We need to turn up and perform like last time out.”
The 26-year-old speaks of the busy schedule for the squad throughout February, and relishes the opportunities to earn vital points.
“It will be a challenge for us with the number of games we have coming up in the next month. We’ve brought a couple of bodies in, so we need to get on a good run of picking up results.
“The games coming thick and fast will only help us now with our confidence – the more games, the better. We need to pick up as many points as we can now and lift ourselves up the table.”
Having arrived at The Den at the end of August, Leonard has been a mainstay in the middle of the park and has even taken on captain duties on several occasions during his debut season, a feat he explains is an ‘honour’.
“I’ve loved the opportunities to captain the side, and I’d like to think I can do it a few more times as my career goes on here.
“It’s been a great honour for me to take the armband for a few games having just arrived at the club, and long may those chances continue as long as results are going the right way.”