Harris: Millwall will be more secure before August 6

MILLWALL scored three goals from crosses at Crawley on Saturday – despite not having worked on that aspect of preparation in pre-season yet.

Lee Gregory put Millwall ahead after a cross from Steve Morison, before two Shane Ferguson deliveries lead to Shaun Williams nodding in a second and Morison heading home the winner six minutes from time.

Boss Neil Harris was pleased with that return and explained the work that will be done on the training ground before the opening League One fixture against Oldham on August 6.

“We’ve worked on a lot of fitness, a lot of pressing in the zones, but we haven’t necessarily worked in both penalty areas yet,” Harris said. “That’s the plan for this week and next week when you get into the nitty-gritty of defending the penalty area, defending balls into the box, defending in small numbers: one-v-ones, two-v-twos. That’s the last part of pre-season: short, sharp stuff.

“We scored three goals from crosses but we haven’t really worked on that yet. We’ll get the sharpness in and around the penalty area this week and next week. I expect us to be defensively a lot tighter and a lot more secure in the next week or two.”

Millwall were 2-1 behind at half-time at Broadfield Stadium on Saturday but improved in the second half, with the introductions of Ferguson, Fred Onyedinma and David Worrall giving the side more of an attacking threat.

Onyedinma again featured up front, and Harris believes he can worry defenders in that role.

Harris said: “We know the quality we’ve got in the dressing room and I thought the changes we made gave us freshness and energy. I thought when Fred came on he looked a real handful and showed what he’s all about as a centre-forward. A little bit hit-and-miss at times with the football, but he showed he can scare the life out of people.”

Millwall were much more urgent than their opponents in the second half, and Harris praised midfielders Jimmy Abdou and Williams for their growing influence as their side came from behind to win.

“I’m really pleased that (Williams) got his goal, he grew into the game and got better,” Harris said. “I think both midfielders did, actually. We looked a much better midfield when we started pressing the ball a little bit higher. There were too many grey areas in the first half where some were pressing and some weren’t.

“There are loads of things to work on. I’m pleased with what I saw (Saturday) because this time last year we went to Stevenage and played them off the park and could have won 27-0. We thought we were there. I’d much rather it like it was (Saturday) where we started slowly, played poorly in the first half and came good in the second.”

Ferguson’s involvement, meanwhile, was his first in the pre-season programme, and Harris feels the Northern Ireland international gives the side a number of different options.

“He looked alright, didn’t he?” Harris joked. “He’s got that quality and we saw that with his set-piece delivery and a great ball in for the second goal. Fergie gives us real options, he can play left-midfield, left-back and down the right-hand side coming in on his left foot delivering balls.

“I think it’s nice for the group to have his quality back in it. We’ll improve when Joe Martin comes back into training as well this week.”

Harris confirmed Martin is unlikely to be match fit for the start of the season.

Image source ©Millwall FC

John Kelly