NEIL Harris paid tribute to his players for sealing their place in another League One play-off final, but stressed “success is promotion” after they came from behind to beat Scunthorpe in the semi-final second leg.
Steve Morison scored either side of Lee Gregory’s goal after Ivan Toney had given Scunthorpe a 19th-minute lead at Glanford Park. Stephen Dawson pulled one back with nine minutes left but Millwall survived through six minutes of injury-time to book their place in the Wembley decider against Bradford on May 20.
The Lions had to beat Bristol Rovers a week ago to clinch their place in the play-offs, and followed that up with a superb victory against the Iron.
“We’ve not achieved anything,” Harris said. “Yes, we’ve had a really good season, and a brilliant cup run, but to bounce back from losing last year’s final, then a difficult September, has been really good.
“That’s two really strong performances from this Millwall team. But success is promotion. There’s great emotion when the final whistle goes. You realise you’re going to manage again at Wembley, my staff will coach at Wembley, but it’s about the players on the pitch.
“The fans, I have to apologise to, it’s another expense for them to find for the fifth time in nine years. But they will, because they are our fans, and that’s what they do.
“The players on the pitch bounced back from four defeats in September and three in December. But we haven’t looked back since beating Charlton before Christmas.
“I wasn’t fazed by tonight. The spirit in the camp, the camaraderie, they're relaxed because they know they have ability. When you’ve got the work ethic like they’ve got it’s fantastic.
“Over the two games we deserve that.”
Millwall fell behind against the run of play, but gave themselves the perfect boost before half-time when Morison headed home Tony Craig’s cross.
Harris revealed the players were “bouncing” at the break as they sensed Graham Alexander's side would be reeling after conceding the equaliser.
“I thought we had been outstanding, arguably one of our best 45 minutes of the season,” Harris said. “The goal just before half-time was a really good goal for us, the full-back crossing the ball and the big centre-forward at the back stick.
“We went in and I didn’t have to say a word, the players were bouncing, tactically helping each other. I gave them a couple of minutes to relax.
“I said to them, ‘Fellas, I’ll do the tactical stuff in a minute, but how you feel now, imagine the opposite feeling in the other dressing room’. I think that hit them hard. That gave them their focus and concentration.
“Scunny came out and had a good start, but after that we bossed the next 20 minutes. After that it was a really strong performance.”
Scunthorpe poured forward in added-time at the end of the game, but couldn’t find a way past Jordan Archer.
Harris also revealed his assistant Dave Livermore's message as Millwall hung on in those dramatic late moments.
Harris explained: “It’s really difficult, Coops [Jake Cooper] is another centre-half with balls going into our box. Fred Onyedinma and David Worrall give you fresh legs in a wide area. But if we’d conceded we would’ve needed to score another goal in extra-time.
“But sometimes you’ve just got to trust your players. And Livs was brilliant, he just said to me, ‘Chops, just trust them, let them get on with it’. And then it’s about their desire.
“You talk about the front players scoring goals, Shaun Williams’ passing range was a joke, it was brilliant. You’ve got the desire in your own box with centre-halves heading balls away, your ‘keeper under pressure coming for crosses to try to punch the ball away, trying to take catches, probably way above his years in what he’s trying to do because he wants to do his job.
“Right at the end you’ve got Tony Craig blocking a shot, Mahlon Romeo in the box blocking one at the near post, Jimmy Abdou and Fergie [Shane Ferguson] in the 96th minute throwing themselves in front of the ball. That’s what spirit there is.
“Over the course of the season, those key moments win you promotion.”
Image: Millwall FC