NEIL Harris admitted his side were “poor” in their 3-0 defeat to Oxford on Saturday, and said “you have to pinch yourself” after other results meant Millwall go into the final game of the season in sixth.
Conor McAleny put Oxford two goals ahead inside nine minutes and Oxford added a third in the second half through Joshua Ruffels as they coasted to a comfortable win.
Millwall rarely threatened, but can still guarantee a sixth-place finish if they beat Bristol Rovers in the last game of the season.
Southend’s defeat at Shrewsbury and Rochdale’s draw against Oldham means if Millwall defeat Bristol Rovers next Sunday they will finish sixth.
However, if they fail to win Southend or Rochdale can deny them a play-off place.
The defeat to Oxford was Millwall’s first at The Den since December 10.
Harris said: “The overriding emotion after that, and I was honest with my group, is that we were really poor today. It was a poor Millwall performance.
“After 17 games of being fantastic here and overrunning team after team after team, including three Premier League sides, we perform like that in our last home game of the season.
“Then you get told you’re still sixth and you have to pinch yourself a little bit. As bad as we were, what a great position to be in.
“We’ll wake up tomorrow and analyse and say we can be so much better than that, and we will be on Sunday at Bristol Rovers. What a great opportunity we’ve got.
“It’s hugely disappointing today, but our fate is in our hands.
“From probably November time onwards, if you had said to me we have one game to finish in the top six I would have snapped your hands off.”
Millwall’s best chance to get back into the game came at 2-0 down, but Aiden O’Brien saw his shot saved by goalkeeper Simon Eastwood.
Otherwise the home side created little.
“Maybe we were a little bit nervous, though I didn’t detect it before the game,” Harris said. “On Thursday and Friday we were really good.
“Maybe we lost a little bit of focus and were too relaxed. There was a sense of players not taking responsibility for their own performances, waiting for the man beside them to do something and score a goal.
“I reminded the players you haven’t got to play well here, but you’ve got to play like a Millwall player. The first half we didn’t, the second half we competed better.
"Aiden had that chance and if we get it back to 2-1 we know what can happen here. But they go up the other end and score. It’s poor by us. Big moments change games.”
Image: Millwall FC