Harris hails Millwall character after last-gasp win

NEIL Harris hailed the “character” and “desire” of his players as Millwall came from two goals down at Bury with 20 minutes left to win 3-2.

After the Lions had dominated the first half Bury striker James Vaughan put his side ahead against the run of play in the 61st minute when he headed past Jordan Archer.

Vaughan doubled the lead six minutes later to seemingly put Bury on the brink of their first win in 14 games and end a nine-game losing streak in the league.

But Niall Maher handled on his goal-line and was sent off before Shaun Williams beat Shakers goalkeeper Ben Williams from the spot.

Harris brought on Aiden O’Brien, Calum Butcher and Alfie Pavey as Millwall piled on the pressure and Butcher headed home four minutes from the end to drag his side level.

And two minutes into injury-time O’Brien tapped home from Fred Onyedinma's low cross to send 442 Millwall fans into ecstasy as the Bury players slumped to the turf.

It was Millwall’s first win in three games and they move up to ninth in League One, just a point off the top six.

“There was character, desire and leadership from so many players to come back from being behind,” Harris said. “I was down on the sideline wondering would I be left thinking ‘how have we lost it’.

“The shot count, the crosses count, the possession, it would have been embarrassing. In the end sheer determination, desire and quality and the impact of substitutes has changed the game.

“I’m delighted but I said to the boys, ‘We won’t settle for that, we won’t settle for all of those positives, we’ve got to be batter from minute one’.

“We got in so many good positions, got so many crosses into the box but didn’t get on the end of them. I’ve said to every player in the squad, everybody can be better at that. It comes down to crossing and finishing, a better timing of runs and end product. It’s something I’ll certainly enjoy working with the players on.”

Millwall were the better side for the majority of the game. They had 24 efforts on goal and forced 11 corners to Bury’s three but looked they would leave empty-handed before the dramatic late finish.

The Lions ended the game with Pavey, O’Brien, Harry Smith and Onyedinma up front as their pressure finally paid off.

Harris said: “You speak about young boys like Harry and Fred, and Aiden when he comes on, they’re inexperienced young players and we’re trying to guide them with timing of runs and different positions to take up and it’s not easy for them.

“I put Jimmy (Abdou) back into the team today because his timing of his runs into the box is outstanding. He nearly got on the end of so many crosses.

“It’s about showing them on the video, on the training pitch and helping them improve.”

Meanwhile, Harris confirmed that Lee Gregory failed a fitness test on Friday. Gregory travelled to Bury because he wanted to receive treatment for the two days the squad were away, and could be available for next weekend’s FA Cup clash at home to Braintree.

Image source: ©Millwall FC

John Kelly