MILLWALL boss Neil Harris revealed he kept his squad longer than normal on the training pitch this week to make sure the players would “get the message” ahead of their shock 3-0 win over AFC Bournemouth in the third round of the FA Cup at The Den on Saturday.
Steve Morison gave Millwall a first-half lead before defender Shaun Cummings doubled the advantage four minutes after the break. Despite putting Millwall under more pressure as the second half went on, Bournemouth didn’t force Jordan Archer into making a save and after Morison had twice gone close to adding a third, Shane Ferguson made it 3-0 in added time.
Bournemouth made 11 changes for the fixture, but their starting side still cost more than £40 million. Harris felt the scoreline didn’t “flatter” his players as Bournemouth failed to register a shot on goal in 90 minutes.
“I just said to the guys downstairs I don’t think we did much different to what we normally do,” Harris said. “I might surprise myself when I watch it back. I thought there was a lot of effort, good shape, we pressed the ball at the right times, defended really well as a team.
“At the right times we were clinical and I said to the players three-nil doesn’t flatter us. We could have scored more.
“I was really pleased, we came up against a really talented Bournemouth squad today, and it was a big effort from us to get through.
“We guessed that Bournemouth would make changes because they’ve got a big few games coming up in the Premier League. They have a talented squad and an expensive squad, so we knew there would be some changes and minutes for people.
“What we knew is that they would play the way Bournemouth would play because they have their identity and are enjoyable to watch.
“My players worked really hard, a bit harder than they normally would on Thursday and Friday because we knew we had to try and nullify their threats. At times the players didn’t get what we were trying to get into them over the last couple of days, so they had to stay a bit longer on the training pitch.
“I think the attitude of the boys to learn and execute a game plan was top drawer.
“You want to get the messages across and you want to get it right. I explained to the players when you play higher up the divisions and play at the top level the minor details are really important: set-plays, things like that and we showed that with the first goal.
“If you’re going to cause a cup upset you have to play to your strengths.”
Cherris boss Eddie Howe was asked afterwards if he had any complaints with the result and said: “No, not at all, not in terms of the result, I thought Millwall deserved it.
He added: “It’s really disappointing because I thought we had a good balance between experience and a lot of youth.
“But this is a tough place to play when the crowd get with the home team and as soon as we gave them the first goal it was a difficult afternoon.
“I don’t think the players threw in the towel, it wasn’t a case of we turned up and didn’t know what to expect. The players gave their best but it was a very difficult game to watch."
Howe also paid tribute to Millwall’s performance.
“I thought they worked extremely hard, it was a big, physical test for us,” he said. “We expected that, goal-kicks, corners, everything you would expect of Millwall.
“I think Neil has done a great job with them and the crowd have played their part. They’ll be very pleased with their afternoon.
“Whenever you come here you expect an atmosphere and the fans to get behind the home team. They didn’t disappoint, they did that.
“From our perspective you’ve got to be better at dealing with that, it’s only noise, it doesn’t mean anything. We have to be more composed and show more quality on the ball.
“We had a lot of possession in the second half but didn’t really work the goalkeeper at all. For all that possession, nothing came at the end of it.”
Image: Millwall FC