NEIL Harris paid tribute to West Brom after the Premier League club’s young side eventually succumbed to second-half pressure from Millwall, who won their first fixture in the revamped EFL Trophy 2-0 at The Den.
Baggies U23 boss James Chan fielded a side with an average age of under 18, but they showed no signs they were awed against their more experienced opponents and it took until the 63rd minute before Millwall broke them down when Jimmy Abdou popped up in the box to score his first goal in almost a year.
Harris made a triple substitution shortly after the midfielder’s goal, bringing on Steve Morison, Ben Thompson and David Worrall to try to ensure a penalty shootout would not be needed to decide who would get a bonus point.
And Morison made it 2-0 to give Millwall three points after Thompson had been brought down in the box in the 74th minute.
Harris gave full first-team debuts to defender Noah Chesmain and winger Kris Twardek and he felt that after a cagey opening 45 minutes his side eventually made their quality tell.
Harris said: “I thought first and foremost West Brom were a credit to their football club. I think they’ve got two very proud coaches tonight.
“Their shape, their determination and desire and work rate was first class in the first half.
“I thought we were a little bit slow in moving the ball and we were a little bit safe in possession at times, which comes when you’ve got two debuts in the side – and Jamie Philpot making his second start.
“I asked them at half-time to be a little bit more aggressive in their decision-making and move the ball a bit quicker. I think our fitness and the substitutes made the difference. We probably just had a little more quality in the end.”
With Millwall facing Bradford in League One on Saturday, and this the fourth Tuesday in a row they have played, Harris was grateful to be able to call on Morison to help close the game out.
“He’s been super for us this year playing against experienced defenders so for young lads he was playing against tonight it was a great learning curve for them and something they won’t forget in their football careers,” Harris said.
“He does make a difference, he has knowhow and experience of the game and he brings people into play.”