Millwall defender Cummings praises Harris tactics

SHAUN Cummings praised Neil Harris after Millwall’s 3-0 win over AFC Bournemouth in the third round of the FA Cup on Saturday, saying the Lions boss gave the players the confidence that they could topple the Premier League side.

Millwall sealed their place in the fourth round of the competition after Cummings’ 49th-minute strike added to Steve Morison’s first-half opener before Shane Ferguson crowned the win at the end of the game.

Cummings’ goal was only his second for Millwall, and he said Harris gives players the chance to "express ourselves".

“He’s very good, obviously he knows the game,” Cummings said. “He’s been at this club for a very long time. I enjoy working under him and he gives us confidence, as you can see, to strive and keep our levels up.

“We are encouraged to get forward, the gaffer lets us express ourselves in that sense to make those types of runs. We’re not just robots, we won’t just sit in our slots. We get given the freedom to play.

“As you could see with my goal I got forward and was able to be there for a tap-in.”

Bournemouth changed their entire side from the one that drew 3-3 with Arsenal last Tuesday, but Cummings said he was confident of a win even before knowing what starting XI Cherries boss Eddie Howe would pick.

“You could say it made a difference but Bournemouth are a good team with quality,” Cummings said. “You could say it was down to the changes but you’ve still got to win the game.

“As a team we played very well, our tactics were right on point. We had other chances in the game as well, we had other chances to make that lead bigger. We deserved to win.

“A lot of their team didn’t play before and it could have gone either of two ways. I think they played well and kept the ball but, like I said, our tactics were right on point and we deserved the win.

“Me personally, I thought we could win from the get-go, to be honest. It was just another game of football, even though they’re a Premier League side.

“We beat them no matter who was on the pitch, it was down to their manager who they played. We had to still do the job.”

Harris said afterwards he had kept the players on the training pitch last week until they had fully understood the tactical instructions before taking on the high-flying Cherries.

“Every game is different but it was more or less nailing down what we needed to do to beat a good Premier League side, because they are a very good side,” he said.

“We showed the time out on the training pitch was worth it because we got the result.

“During the game they had good spells, they kept the ball well. But one-nil is a very close scoreline, it could go either of two ways, you could go two-nil up which we did or you could go one-one. The game can change in that sense so it was a god thing we got the second goal.

“Those are the little differences in football matches, it can swing either way.”

Millwall’s long-term existence in Bermondsey was in the spotlight in the build-up to the fixture. Cummings said that while the players know what’s at stake in terms of Millwall’s future, that didn’t influence their performance.

“Obviously we are aware of that but we’re just trying to focus on what we as players, and coaching staff and the manager, can do on the pitch,” Cummings said. “We don’t let that affect us in any way. We know what’s going on but we still have a job to do and we try to do it to the best of our ability.

“It’s a good story and we were the underdogs. Everyone loves the underdog to win so it’s very positive.”

Asked who he wants in Monday night’s draw, Cummings said: “I don’t mind. Whoever we play we still have to do a job, we still have to get our tactics right, whether it’s another Premier League side or a League Two side or a non-league side. We still have to do what we have to do to win, this is just a start.

“To perform as well as we did today, and to then drop our standards in the next round, it wouldn’t be worth it in that sense.”

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly