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Harris: "It was a game we shouldn't have lost"

Manager reflects on defeat to Norwich at The Den

2 March 2019

Neil Harris has discussed his frustration as Millwall were beaten 3-1 at The Den by Sky Bet Championship leaders Norwich City on Saturday afternoon.

The Lions went in at half-time on level terms following Shaun Williams' header to cancel out Marco Stiepermann's opener, but second-half goals from captain Christoph Zimmermann and League top scorer Teemu Pukki consigned Harris' men to defeat.

"My initial thought is that I'm disappointed with the result, because it was a game we shouldn't have lost," the manager told millwallfc.co.uk.

"Norwich have some really good footballers, excellent technicians of the ball, and they play some very good stuff. From the goals we let in - the second one is a very poor goal to concede, and the third one is outstanding Premier League football from them.

"But the chances we had in the final third - the areas we got into on the pitch - but not used the ball well enough, and that's what I said to the players. The attacking players can turn around and blame the defenders for conceding goals, but we should've scored more than three goals today and won the game."

Harris claims the team felt in a comfortable position for large parts of the game, but were undone in the second half by firstly a bout of poor defending, followed by a brilliant Norwich move to seal the game.

"The boys stuck to the gameplan and had a right go. A lot of the wrongs we had here against Preston in the first 25 minutes, we put right. But I said to the players that we have to be better in the final third, and ultimately that's the difference today - the quality of their end product is outstanding, which is why they've scored so many goals and are top of the League. Ours on the other hand wasn't good enough.

"We started very well in the first 15 minutes, and should've gone in front. They had two meaningful attacks, one was the goal and the other their one-on-one which Jordan [Archer] saved. Other than that, we felt comfortable and deserved to be level at half-time.

"In the second half, without really creating too much, we were never really in any danger again going into their second goal. There wasn't really any pressure, so the manner of how we conceded the second was really disappointing and poor. We were then just debating the attacking changes to put Norwich on the back foot, the players had just settled and found a bit of rhythm again, and they go and score a very good third goal. It's a great pass and finish, so we have no complaints with that one.

The boss has highlighted the vital nature of next week's fixture, a visit to rivals Bolton Wanderers at the University of Bolton Stadium with a crucial three points at stake.

"The lack of midweek game comes at a very good time for us, with some of the boys being ill and needing time to recover properly," said Harris.

"On Tuesday we have an Under 23 game with some of the lads getting a chance for much-needed minutes who haven't appeared as much, and we can get some really good intensity in training. I said to the players that everything else has been and gone now this season. It's all about Bolton next Saturday - which will be a proper game of football.

"We need to be up and at them. They're a team scrapping, and we're a team which will go and fight, and scrap for everything. It's a massive game - far bigger than anything in the FA Cup this season - and I look forward to seeing my players responding next week."


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