MILLWALL boss Neil Harris said finishing and not focusing after conceding the first goal was the difference as his side paid for a sloppy five minutes in the first half against Derby County on Saturday.
Millwall were punished as they conceded from a corner when David Nugent flicked the ball past Jordan Archer, and Harris said afterwards it was “criminal” that they then let in two more in the next five minutes, Matej Vydra doubling the lead before Nugent fired in his second.
It was the Lions’ first defeat this month, and Harris felt one of the decisive moments was in the 15th minute when Steve Morison put Lee Gregory through, but he couldn’t take his chance as Curtis Davies cleared off the line.
“We’ve had a lot of big moments like that on the road this year when we’ve not taken opportunities at key moments and we have been punished,” Harris said. “That’s the difference between Derby and the top six, and us not in the top six. When those moments come along for Derby they take them.
“We’ve made three or four errors today and conceded three goals. We had numerous chances and we didn’t take them. That’s the frustration, but that’s the realism of where we are.
“I said to my players anyone getting a little bit ahead of themselves after seven points in a three-game period when we were excellent, that’s a reality check.”
Millwall had chances to reduce the deficit in the second half, but Scott Carson kept out efforts from Aiden O’Brien and Lee Gregory.
Harris felt that reaction came too late.
“I’d rather the response came after the first goal and we were more professional and disciplined and aware of the situation,” Harris added. “Our game management should have been better at 1-0, it’s a poor goal and we don’t focus.
“I think my players were too preoccupied with watching the goal back on the big screen instead of getting their heads down and thinking, ‘right, we’ve got a big five minutes now’.
“Where we are, we can’t afford to have five-, 10-minute spells like we did today. We gifted Derby the goals, albeit good finishes.
“I said to the players we will concede, we will get beat, but when we do it’s about how we react. Whether that’s after a defeat like we just had or after an individual error. We shouldn’t concede from a set-piece, it’s poor from us, really poor.
“They’ve got too many good players to be giving them cheap goals. But to concede two more in the space of five minutes is criminal. I’m disappointed with my group for that.
“We will take it on the chin and move on to Wolves on Boxing Day.”
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