Millwall miss top-six chance as injuries mount

NEIL Harris said Millwall “weren’t ruthless enough” as struggling Chesterfield held on for a scoreless draw at The Den on Tuesday night.

Millwall dominated possession and chances but couldn’t force a way past Thorsten Stuckmann in the Spireites goal.

Chesterfield, for whom centre-backs Ian Evatt and Daniel Jones – who produced a late tackle in the box to halt Fred Onyedinma in injury time that summed up his side’s resolve – were superb, were under almost incessant pressure in the second half, but for the second successive Tuesday night game Millwall could only draw 0-0.

But unlike against Walsall after the fourth-round win against Watford, there was plenty of energy in the side as Harris made six changes to the team that defeated Leicester City in the FA Cup last weekend.

Rather, it was the failure to take chances and some rushed attacking play that meant Chesterfield survived.

“We dominated probably 95 per cent of the game,” Harris said. “The shot count will be telling, chances created, shots on target, shots off target. It could have been a cricket score.

“Some of our play was excellent, our use of the ball, the positions we got in. We were very good the first 15 minutes and certainly in the second half.

“It’s a point gained and another clean sheet. It wasn’t our most dominant clean sheet but we got it anyway to win us a point. If we’re going to get promoted we should be winning tonight’s game.

“It was a frustrating evening, we weren’t ruthless enough.”

“There were so many aspects of the game tonight I’m really pleased with. The overriding feeling is disappointment that we didn’t get three points. Some of the football was really good.

“Would we have lost that game in the first half of the season? Possibly. Chesterfield, Walsall, come to get a point and try to keep us out and manage to do it.

“We’ve got to find that ruthlessness in us that gets us over the line.”

Goalkeeper Tom King, who started in place of Jordan Archer after Millwall’s first-choice goalkeeper suffered a quad injury against the Foxes, helped Millwall to a seventh successive clean sheet.

King was solid under crosses and was thankful that Tony Craig cleared the ball off the line in the first half.

King could even have had an assist after releasing Lee Gregory with a quick clearance late on but Stuckmann saved.

“He’s a good solid lad, a good honest pro,” Harris said of King, who will start at Oldham next weekend. “He’s got a wise head on young shoulders.

“He kicks the ball really well, is a good size and has safe hands. I was really pleased for him to get a clean sheet tonight, it’ll give him confidence going into Saturday.

“It’ll give the team confidence with him behind them.”

Meanwhile, Harris has a number of injury problems ahead of the clash with the Latics. Along with Archer, Steve Morison was absent on Tuesday night with a groin problem, while Jed Wallace is struggling with a calf strain.

Harris said: “Jordan, Steve, Jed, won’t be available on Saturday, I’m not sure when they will be. It’s too early to tell at the moment.

“I had to make three enforced changes, three by choice because of the work they put in at the weekend, Calum (Butcher), Fergie (Shane Ferguson) and Shaun Cummings. All three would have played, I’m sure.

“But because of the amount of fixtures we’ve been picking up little niggles. We can’t risk losing players long-term or for four or six weeks.

“We have to get everybody healthy. The changes tonight gave us good legs. Where we fell short against Walsall, the impact subs and the legs in the second half, wasn’t an issue. They were fresh and the subs made a good impact, we just couldn’t get that final magic touch.”

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly


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