Harris praises Millwall youngsters – after four goals from players who came through academy

NEIL Harris was pleased Millwall’s youngsters took their chances as Ben Thompson and Fred Onyedinma scored in their 4-1 win over Barnsley in the third round of the FA Cup on Saturday.

Thompson and Onyedinma got their first goals of the season and Aiden O’Brien’s double meant all the scorers were players who had come through the Lions’ youth academy.

Harris made six changes from the side that lost 2-1 at Norwich last Monday, taking the opportunity to rest George Saville and James Meredith.

Tony Craig started at left-back and was involved in creating the first Millwall goal, after Brad Potts have given the Tykes the lead.

“I thought we started the game well, we were excellent for 10 minutes and should have got in front but didn’t,” Harris said. “We conceded a sucker-punch of a goal and it took us 10 minutes to find our feet again.

“But the 20 minutes before half-time and the 20 minutes after half-time I thought was outstanding, as good as we’ve been this year. Some of our play was very impressive. We passed the ball well and moved well and looked a goal threat for a long period.

“I was delighted with the players who came into the team today and took their opportunity to show their quality.

“All the players, Tony, Ben and Fred, they all took their opportunity. I made changes to give people the chance for match minutes and also to rest players that have played a lot of football.

“When you do that sometimes you lose a bit of continuity in performances, especially here at The Den, but we didn’t show that at all today and we looked a quality side.”

Barnsley were reduced to 10 men in the 52nd minute when Joe Williams tackled Jed Wallace late, and O’Brien and Onyedinma added goals to seal the win after Thompson had put Millwall 2-1 up two minutes into the second half.

“At the time I thought it looked reckless,” Harris said of Williams’ tackle, which prompted a strong reaction from a number of Lions players. “The only reason it looked like a red card from where I was was because of red cards we’ve received this year, that the referee always wants to put down as endangering an opponent.

“It looked reckless and dangerous but when I played it wasn’t a red card. We’ve been on the receiving end of four this year and that’s the first one against us.

“I’d need to see it again, to see if it was dangerous or not.”

The fourth-round draw will take place on Monday evening.

“In the nicest possible way, the cup is a distraction this year,” Harris said. “If we get to the fifth round then great, if we don’t then so be it and we go on to concentrate on the league. The league is the priority and that’s just the reality of where we are this year. We want to make sure we maintain Championship status and keep improving.

“It went very much under the radar last year that we beat three Premier League sides with three clean sheets. We’d like to have a crack at more of the top sides, but first and foremost we’d like to be here at The Den.”

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly