MILLWALL boss Neil Harris admitted he took a “gamble” bringing on Jamie Philpot and Fred Onyedinma in the 1-0 win over Fleetwood on Tuesday night.
Philpot replaced Lee Gregory at half-time and Harris thrust Onyedinma into the action when captain Steve Morison picked up a hamstring strain.
It meant that from the 70th until the 88th minute, when Ed Upson came on for Aiden O’Brien, the Lions had six players aged 23 or under on the pitch as they desperately defended their one-goal advantage against Steve Pressley’s side.
But the moves paid off as Philpot (pictured above) set up Morison’s winner and Onyedinma helped fellow U21 graduate Mahlon Romeo deal with the threat of Fleetwood’s wide players.
Jordan Archer, 23, made a double close-range stop from Wes Burns in added time to ensure Millwall bagged the points, and Harris believes that kind of experience is key to his young squad’s development.
“I think it’s a long while since Millwall have had a lot of young players on the pitch at the same time like that,” Harris said.
“But it’s refreshing to see. And what do I do as a manager? Do I give them the opportunity to develop? If I don’t give them the opportunity how are they going to experience games like that when their backs are against the wall in pressure situations?
“It might have been a big call to go with some of the younger players with more experienced players on the bench, but I took the gamble and I’m pleased it paid off.
“They will be much stronger characters and much better footballers for experiencing that second half.”