JORDAN Archer believes the slow start to the season was partly a consequence of so much change at the club in the summer and the challenge of adapting to a new division.
One win in the first five league fixtures that left Millwall 19th in League One was a continuation of the form that had seen them win just five of 27 in the league in 2015.
Millwall’s 2015-16 season finally sparked into life with a 3-1 win at Crewe in September when Aiden O’Brien scored a hat-trick, but the 5-3 defeat to Peterborough at the start of October still left them 15th, two points behind Colchester, whom they meet on Saturday.
A nine-match unbeaten run after that loss at London Road hinted at the potential of the side but it still took them until January 23, when they won 2-1 at Chesterfield, to reach the top six for the first time this season.
They have stayed in the play-off places since and go into this weekend’s fixture 31 points ahead of the U's.
The Lions have lost just three of their last 17 in the league. Archer has kept seven clean sheets in those games, in which Lee Gregory and Steve Morison have scored 19 goals between them.
Former Tottenham keeper Archer explained it took time for the squad to implement the way boss Neil Harris wanted them to play.
“We started the season off slowly but that was because we were getting used to a new league with a few new players coming in,” Archer said.
“But as the season has gone on, and especially since the turn of the year, we’ve got used to the gaffer’s philosophy better and we’ve been picking up points.
“We’re organised, we’re solid at the back and we have two boys up top who keep scoring goals. We’ve put in some great team performances.
“Teams around us are picking up points as well but we’re in the top six and can’t focus on them. I think we’re more than capable of finishing in the play-off spots.”
Millwall have seven matches left this season starting with the trip to the Weston Homes Community Stadium. Five of them are against teams in the bottom half of the table, but Archer warned against any complacency as they try to ensure they extend their campaign all the way to the League One play-off final on May 29.
“We’ve got a few games against teams lower down the table and they’ll be fighting to stay up,” Archer stressed. “Pretty much every team has something to play for at this time, whether the play-offs or trying to avoid releagation.
“We’ll keep taking it game by game and keep doing what we’re doing.”
Archer emphasised the importance of the defence in front of him when asked about his haul of clean sheets recently. He was the senior goalkeeper in the squad for the last two fixtures with David Forde on international duty and said he has been handing out advice to his younger understudy Harry Girling.
“Fordey’s been great with me all season but has been away with his country,” Archer said. “Harry came into the squad and he’s a top young keeper. I’m still young myself but whatever experience I’ve gained I’ve been passing it on to him.
“Kevin Pressman has been brilliant with all of us. He’s nurtured us well and always has a lot to say.”