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Harris: Millwall are underdogs against Scunthorpe – but that's when we can be at our best

NEIL Harris admits Millwall are the underdogs going into the second leg of their League One play-off semi-final against Scunthorpe – but insisted that can bring the best out of his side.

The Lions created the clearest chances against a defensive Iron side in the first leg at The Den on Thursday night, with the best falling to Lee Gregory who saw his first-half shot saved by goalkeeper Joe Anyon.

Harris admitted that Gregory's effort was Millwall’s “major” opportunity as Scunthorpe produced a resilient defensive performance to grind out a 0-0 draw.

He said: “I thought we were really good in the first half. There were a lot of feisty challenges as you’d expect, but then we got a foothold in the game.

“I don’t think there were huge amounts of quality in the game but the moments there were came our way.

“Obviously the clear-cut chance from Lee Gregory was the major one.

“Other than that we put a lot of balls into the box, there were a lot of set-plays and we won a lot to first headers but didn’t really react to the second one. They were a little bit lucky with balls falling to them in their box.

“On the whole I was pleased with the performance and that we were the better side, and pleased we didn’t concede a goal.

“It was important not to get beaten. Yes we’d love to have the lead going into the second leg but we as a team and a club this year and last year, when we’ve been slightly the underdog that’s when we’ve been at our best.

“I can’t ask any more of my players against an experienced, physical Scunthorpe side. I thought we came out on top.”

The result gives the advantage to Scunthorpe at Glanford Park, but Harris is confident in his side’s ability away from home.

“I think they will play a little bit more football at home,” he said. “We have to make sure we’re every bit as secure and resilient as we were tonight.

"In front of their own fans the onus is on them to come out and attack against us. We’re capable of scoring goals away from home as we’ve shown this season and at Bristol last week.

"It’ll be 100 miles an hour and it will be aggressive again. Over the course of this season, and in the play-offs last year, we’ve played a lot of big games. Some have been away from home so we have no qualms about going there having to get a result.”

Scunthorpe boss Graham Alexander felt Anyon’s save from Gregory was crucial in not allowing Millwall to build up momentum in front of their own fans.

“We were disappointed to concede the opportunity, but it was a great save from Joe,” Alexander said. “It was a big save at an important time because we knew the pressure would have built.

“The atmosphere can make you lose you focus and then you want to fight and you lose your discipline.

“There were a lot of balls into our box and we had to defend bravely. The lads worked extremely hard to prevent them from breaking through.

“It’s only half-time in the tie…it was always going to go to the second leg. We had to work extremely hard to get a clean sheet.”

Alexander was asked if he felt his side were favourites for the second leg on Sunday.

“I don’t know Neil’s gameplan or tactics but I know they’re not going to give anything away or give up,” he said.

“It’ll be a good game, it’s two good teams. It’s quite evenly balanced.

“The favourites thing is for other people, those kinds of things don’t help you win a game. At home we want to attack teams.

“Millwall have good players and they’ll come with a gameplan to try to win the game.

Scunthorpe defender Murray Wallace, meanwhile, was pleased with his side’s defensive display. “There were long balls, corners, throw-ins but we stood up to it well.”

Image: Millwall FC

John Kelly

(@jkelly1882)