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Millwall boss leaps to stopper's defence after errors

NEIL Harris came to the defence of Jordan Archer after the goalkeeper made two errors in the 2-2 draw at Sunderland on Saturday.

Looking for their first home win in 20 games, the Black Cats took the lead in the 12th minute when Archer didn’t connect properly with his punch and the ball fell to former Lions striker Lewis Grabban who poked home from three yards.

George Saville levelled for Millwall in the 16th minute when Sunderland goalkeeper Robbin Ruiter let the midfielder’s free-kick go through his legs.

On a day when all four goals were the result of goalkeeper mistakes, Ruiter then got both hands to another Saville free-kick but still couldn’t keep the ball out as Millwall took a 20th-minute lead.

But a minute after half-time the Lions let their opponents back into the game as Archer failed to claim Adam Matthews’ cross from the right, the ball going in off the stopper’s gloves.

Sunderland pressed for a late winner, with Grabban inches away from connecting with Aiden McGeady’s cross five minutes from time in front of an open goal.

Millwall had the Championship’s joint-best away defensive record before Saturday, and Harris refused to criticise his goalkeeper as his side’s wait for an away win this season continues.

Harris insisted the squad would “rally around” Archer ahead of Tuesday’s meeting with Hull City at The Den.

“It certainly wasn't a day for goalkeepers,” Harris said. “Before today, we had the best away defensive record in the league and Jordan was a big part of that.

“Today wasn't one of his better performances, but he'll be the most disappointed person in the ground, along with Sunderland's goalkeeper. We have to rally round him and make sure he's in the right frame of mind.”

Sunderland are bottom of the league, with Robbie Stockdale taking charge of his last game before former Wales boss Chris Coleman's role as permanent manager is confirmed.

The hosts were an attacking threat on Saturday, and could have snatched a late win through Grabban.

“We've come to Sunderland with the thought process of [they had] a poor home record and no manager, but they have some fantastic players, and that gets lost on a lot of people,” Harris said.

“We knew it was going to be a tough challenge, we knew there would be times when the crowd would be with them and there would be times when the crowd would be against them.

“To go behind and get ourselves in front, goalkeeping errors or not, is an achievement. Leading up until half-time was strong and I said to the boys at half-time that the second half would be vital. We needed to kill the game and then I fancied us to go on and get a third and a fourth.

“To then give a silly second goal away – your backs are to the wall again.

“Yes, it's a point gained, but I'm also disappointed.”

The result leaves Millwall in 18th place in the table, a point ahead of the Tigers before next week’s midweek clash.

Image: Millwall FC

John Kelly

(@jkelly1882)