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Harris discusses Bolton defeat

Manager talks after Championship loss

9 March 2019

Neil Harris has spoken of his disappointment following Millwall's 2-1 defeat at Bolton Wanderers on Saturday afternoon.

Second-half goals from Pawel Olkowski and Gary O'Neil secured the three points for Phil Parkinson's side at the University of Bolton Stadium, with Lee Gregory turning home a consolation late in the contest.

Harris primarily blames defensive errors for the defeat, and highlights individual disappointment.

"We're obviously very disappointed with the result today," the manager says.

"The first half was very scrappy - probably what I expected from a clash in where we are at the moment. I spoke to the boys at half-time about carrying on doing the nitty-gritty and the nasty stuff, making sure we compete and add some quality to what was lacking in the first half.

"We had a brilliant week's training and the lads gave me everything, but the goals we gave away were really poor. Some poor one-on-one defending and players not doing enough, and then we're chasing the game. We're massively disappointed individually."

The boss further discusses the reasons for coming away empty-handed, at both ends of the pitch.

"People have jobs to do. Gary O'Neil - who isn't a spring chicken anymore - runs from his own box up to the other end of the pitch and scores. We get three players behind the ball before he gets his shot away, and again it goes back to what I say about one-on-one defending.

"We had a chance at the end and had the ball, we threw attacking players on at the end to score, and that comes down to the quality in the final third, which has certainly been missing in recent weeks. We could have made better decisions and certainly added more of a clinical edge.

"The positive is that Lee Gregory got back on the scoresheet, which is good for us and will give him some confidence. But, as I say, it's a disappointing result and one I didn't expect."

Harris explains his decision of team selection as he reverted to a formation containing two strikers for the visit, with Tom Elliott returning to the starting side and Alex Pearce replacing Shaun Hutchinson in the back four.

"We tinkered and played a more footballing shape, but we didn't create chances. That's okay against a footballing side, because you can counter them. But I wanted to come and win the game today and be positive - we wanted to play with two strikers.

"Tom Elliott has the best win percentage in a Millwall shirt. We score more goals, concede less and win more games when he's in the team. I also wanted to show faith in Lee [Gregory] because he's been my top scorer for four years in a row.

"In defence, Pearcey has been excellent, and we had conceded eight goals in three games."

The manager now looks ahead to a crucial trip to Birmingham City this Wednesday, before next Sunday's Emirates FA Cup Quarter-Final with Brighton & Hove Albion.

"The Cup game will be a good atmosphere at The Den and exciting for the fans, but our priority is the League and we have a huge game at Birmingham City on Wednesday.

"I now have to pick a team capable of going and competing against a good, physical Birmingham side."

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