NEIL Harris said Lee Gregory showed his “character” and “determination” after the striker’s penalty gave Millwall three points against Peterborough United.
Gregory, who missed two penalties in the last five minutes of the 0-0 draw at Oldham last Saturday, was fouled in the box eight minutes into the second half on Tuesday night and immediately went to retrieve the ball, to the encouragement of the home crowd.
Shaun Williams also offered him a word of support before Gregory beat Peterborough goalkeeper Luke McGee with an accurate low drive.
Harris said there had been no doubts before the game that Gregory would take the side’s next penalty.
“The dressing room dictates that,” Harris said. “As a group you know your characters. I’ve got good leaders in my dressing room, good men, good boys.
“They know what’s the right decision and what’s not. They know when someone needs to take one or not. I didn’t have to make that call.
“I’ve got various other players on the pitch who would be more than delighted to take one, but Lee Gregory showed his character, his determination, his desire to win the penalty in the first place. And then he showed his goal-scoring mentality to want to put behind him his disappointment from the weekend.
“It’s not just Lee, it’s a group thing. Anyone who was at Oldham saw the reaction from the players after game, they were all around Lee. We all backed him publicly and privately, as you’d expect, because I know he’s capable of being the match-winner, and he’s been the match-winner for us loads of times.
“I don’t often single out individual players, but tonight Lee Gregory deserves huge amounts of praise.
“It would have been difficult for him if he hadn’t scored. He’s been hugely reliable over my two years in charge from the penalty spot.
“He’s put it to bed now, he’s answered the questions so I’m delighted.
“He showed his ability on the pitch and he showed his character as a person by having that hunger to win the ball, run so far with it, win the penalty and after running 70 yards have the balls to stand up and take it in such an important game for both sides.”
Millwall needed Gregory’s goal after what had been a sluggish attacking display. Harris was again without Steve Morison and Millwall’s link-up play in the final third was virtually non-existent before the break against an often dangerous Peterborough.
Tom King had to make saves to keep out two Marcus Maddison free-kicks but Millwall improved after Gregory’s goal seemed to lift a personal as well as collective weight.
The introduction of Aiden O’Brien for Harry Smith in the second half also gave them more mobility up front and allowed them to affect Peterborough’s attempts to commit players forward as the away side chased an equaliser.
The Lions held on relatively comfortably to make it nine games without conceding a goal, but Harris said there isn’t much focus on that record, the most consecutive clean sheets for the club since 1925-26.
“We don’t really talk about it, we don’t rely on it,” Harris said. “We’re just consistent with what we do and everyone knows their jobs. I’ve changed the team for God knows how many games in a row. I’ve had to make changes because of all the games we’ve had but no matter what personnel I pick we’re still consistent in our group ethos, our work ethic and our reliability defensively, and we’re still creating chances in games.
“Group culture has taken over my selection policy at the moment. Every time you keep a clean sheet you give yourself an opportunity to win games, of course you do, we know that.
“We’ve picked up some really good points with 0-0 draws and we want to keep run going. We want to keep the unbeaten run going and the clean sheet record going.
“Sooner or later someone’s going to score past us and someone’s going to beat us but it then becomes about how you react.
“At the moment we’ll certainly enjoy it while it’s ongoing because the players are playing with real confidence.”
Image: Millwall FC