NEIL Harris said an injury to Lee Gregory was the only downside to a promising performance as Millwall began their 2016-17 League One campaign with a comfortable 3-0 win over Oldham at The Den on Saturday afternoon.
Gregory fired Millwall in front from the penalty spot in the 13th minute after Ben Thompson had been fouled by Cameron Burgess, but the striker slumped to the turf later in the half and seemed to indicate a problem with his groin.
Gregory, Millwall’s top scorer last season with 27 goals, continued after treatment from club physio Bobby Bacic but didn’t reappear in the second half.
Harris said afterwards Gregory is a doubt for Tuesday night’s game with Barnet in the first round of the League Cup, a fixture Shaun Hutchinson is also likely to miss as he struggles with a hamstring problem.
Millwall will be buoyed by this performance, after their first home league game against Coventry last season ended in a 4-0 defeat after Gregory was unsuccessful with an early spot-kick.
The Lions dominated Oldham, who included 10 new signings in their starting XI. Millwall were 2-0 ahead at the break after Aiden O’Brien’s strike from inside the box in added time at the end of the first half after Oldham had failed to clear David Worrall’s corner.
Byron Webster made it 3-0 a minute into the second half when another Worrall corner found its way to the back post. Millwall eased off late in the game and could have conceded when Marc Klok’s 25-yard free-kick went inches wide.
Harris wasn’t entirely satisfied with how his side finished the game, but pointed to how far his players have come in a year.
“Well, we’ll see how Lee Gregory is,” Harris said when asked if it was the perfect start. “I’m delighted with three points, delighted with the performance for the first 50 minutes.
“I though after that, naturally, as you do, especially on the opening day of the season on a sticky pitch in the heat we took our foot off the pedal.
“I thought our decision-making was poor, at times, but having said that we could have scored more goals.
“But delighted? Definitely. It’s great to get off the mark with three points on the board. Everybody’s got a nervous anticipation before the game so to be as professional as we were and to be as ruthless as we were in front of goal, I’m really pleased.
“If you roll back 12 months and look at our first home game of the season, Lee Gregory had an early penalty and missed it and Coventry went on to win 4-0.
“So it just shows the differences and fine margins in football. I thought we were exceptional at times, certainly in the first half.
“Our movement, our forward running, the pace we had in the team was outstanding. We were clinical as well.”
Image source ©Charlie Compitus