Harris insists Millwall can recover to reach Wembley

© Millwall FC
© Millwall FC

NEIL Harris says Millwall have a “mountain to climb” in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy southern section final after a 2-0 defeat to Oxford in the first leg.

Kemar Roofe scored twice in the first half to make Michael Appleton’s side strong favourites to reach the competition final at Wembley in April.

Oxford showed no signs that they were going to pay too much respect to their League One opponents, moving the ball quickly and with purpose around the pitch.

Jed Wallace had Millwall’s first chance when his shot from inside the box was saved by Benjamin Buchel.

The Oxford goalkeeper was busy throughout the 90 minutes, but though Millwall had eight shots on target they were all relatively straightforward for Buchel to deal with.

Oxford were forced into more defensive work in the second period, but could have gone three goals up when striker Patrick Hoban volleyed just wide.

Millwall brought on Aiden O’Brien and Fred Onyedinma to try to pull a goal back. However, Oxford defended well and will take a two-goal advantage into the second leg.

Harris admitted it will be difficult to recover the deficit, but he believes his side can go to Kassam Stadium and get the win they need.

"We've given ourselves a mountain to climb, but we're capable of going anywhere and winning,” Harris said.

"The next goal makes or breaks the tie.

"We thought we'd keep putting the ball in the box and something will break for us, but it didn't. We had 19 shots, eight on target. The ball bounced 45 times in their box and doesn't fall to our strikers.

"Similar to the Walsall game, we could have scored six goals, but didn't.”

Harris also revealed that David Forde admitted to his mistake when Roofe scored the opener, but said “no comment” when asked if he would make a change for the clash with Port Vale on Sunday.

And he urged his players to bounce back from Thursday night’s disappointing defeat when Rob Page’s side visit The Den in three days.

Harris said: "We've had a lot of knocks and we'll have more, but we'll pick ourselves up. The boys have to respond Sunday.”

John Kelly