MILLWALL boss Neil Harris said his players showed “big heart” as they came from a goal down to beat Scunthorpe 3-2 on Sunday evening to reach the League One play-off final.
After a 0-0 draw in the first leg last Thursday the Lions were underdogs against an Iron side that had finished third in the League One table, nine points ahead of their semi-final opponents.
Scunthorpe had won the last five games of the regular season, and seemed to have had the hard work done after a resilient and disciplined defensive display at The Den.
Graham Alexander’s side then put themselves in pole position in the tie when Ivan Toney gave them the lead, but Steve Morison’s equaliser rocked them and they conceded two more goals within 13 minutes of the start of the second half as Lee Gregory, and Morison again. edged Millwall closer to another Wembley final.
Stephen Dawson scored in the 81st minute to make it a nervy finale for the visitors through six minutes of injury-time, but Millwall, with Jimmy Abdou and Shane Ferguson flinging themselves in front of shots, held firm to reach the final for the second year in a row.
There they will face Bradford, after the Bantams’ scoreless draw at Fleetwood clinched a 1-0 aggregate semi-final win.
“I can build the camaraderie between the terrace and the pitch, I can say the right things in the dressing room, try as often as possible to recruit the right player,” Harris said. “But it still means nothing once the players go over the white line.
“Tactically we can adjust, I can make subs if we have the personnel available, but it’s down to the players. They give their all.
“We’ve been questioned at times this year because we’ve had difficult spells, individually and collectively at the start of the season.
“It’s about being a Millwall team in the way you play with the ball, the way you fight without the ball. It takes passion, pride and it takes big hearts. That’s the biggest thing, it takes big heart.
“I can say to my players, ‘Be a good Millwall team today’, especially when we’re at The Den. But they have to go do it so it’s testament to my players.”
After three games in seven days, Harris will now give his players time to rest before preparations start for their Wembley clash with Bradford on May 20.
“We have to remember what we had to go through this week as a group, more than the other three teams,” Harris said. “We had to win last week at Bristol, we got to the 86th minute and had to get a goal. We did it and then had to turn around quickly and play at home. That was ideal being at home first, brilliant for us.
“Then we had to travel up [to Scunthorpe] and go again. We’ve had a really tough week so the boys will have a couple of days off to mentally and physically replenish the body.
“Then Wednesday we come in and we start focusing on the final straightaway.”
Image: Millwall FC