MILLWALL manager Neil Harris said his side will take the positives from Thursday night’s 2-0 defeat against Oxford to Kassam Stadium next month.
Harris felt Millwall were unlucky not to take any of the chances they created, saying they could have scored “six goals” against Michael Appleton’s side.
Oxford were 2-0 up at the break through two Kemar Roofe goals after they dominated the first half at The Den.
Millwall played with a higher tempo in the second half and put Benjamin Buchel under pressure with a number of balls into the box, but the goalkeeper saved a couple of efforts from Steve Morison to ensure a clean sheet.
Harris stressed Millwall created enough chances to get something from the game and is hoping for more clinical shooting in the return leg.
“I thought some of our play was really good,” he said. “We were a little bit direct, which I think is our way anyway. When we took care of the ball up front and got the ball in wide areas we got in so many good positions but just the final ball into the box and the finishing wasn’t quite the standard we expect and that we’re used to.
“If you look at the goals we scored last Saturday to the end product (Thursday), that was the difference.
“It is frustrating. Oxford had some nice passages of play football-wise. But we had most of the possession, most of the territory and all the chances. But we’re sitting here frustrated with a defeat again.
“It’s similar to Walsall, maybe, at times, sat here after that saying, ‘Brilliant second half, could have scored six goals, but didn’t’.”
Millwall have kept just three clean sheets in their last 14 games after seven in their 15 before that. They have also yet to come from behind to win a game since the 2-1 victory over Shrewsbury on the opening day of the season.
Neither fact was lost on Harris.
“If you don’t score goals home or away you’ve got to be able to keep a clean sheet,” he said. “At the moment we’re not keeping enough clean sheets and we’re not scoring enough goals in games when we go behind to get back in the game.
“I said to the players at half-time, ‘They’ll come. We’ll keep putting balls in the box, keep getting in good areas, it’ll fall for us, we’ll have a bit of quality and put the ball in the net’.
“Obviously it didn’t but you’re thinking if we get one back we could have comfortably got two or three. That’s the belief that we’ll take into the second leg. We can’t have the bad finishing and the misfortune in the penalty area again in this tie.
“So, as ever, lots to work on.
“But if Oxford can come here and beat us 2-0 we can go there and win 2-0.
“When we go to Oxford and score we have to score again and again.”
Oxford boss Appleton, meanwhile, wasn’t entirely satisfied with his side’s second half performance. After dominating the first 45 minutes, Oxford were forced to defend more on the edge of their own box as Millwall sought a breakthrough.
Appleton said Oxford will be better in the return leg.
“I was disappointed we got deeper in the second half,” he told Oxford Mail.
“Some of our experienced players should know better than that because it was an opportunity to get three or four goals and really wrap the tie up.
“We asked Benji to make too many saves and I expect a different performance at the Kassam.
“I don’t want to get carried away or sound arrogant, but I have come to expect us to do certain things and when you know what the players are capable of, you want it all the time.
“But we’ve got a 2-0 win and we have to be happy.”