Millwall boss: 'Sunderland draw a reality check – but we've proved people wrong this season'

NEIL Harris admitted his side’s 1-1 draw with Sunderland was a “reality check” – but said Millwall are in a “fantastic position” with 11 games left this season.

Shaun Hutchinson scored a second-half equaliser against the Black Cats after Bryan Oviedo had put Sunderland in front before the break from a short-corner routine.

Harris brought on Fred Onyedinma and Tim Cahill to try to force a winner, but Sunderland defended resiliently to claim a point, though they are still bottom of the table.

Millwall’s recent run of form had raised the possibility of an unlikely late charge for the play-offs. The Lions moved up a place to 11th after the draw, eight points off the top six.

“I think first and foremost that’s a good reality check for everyone connected to the football club, me included, the staff, players, board, fans, kitman – everybody,” Harris said. “Thirteen points in February got us to where we are and thoughts of the play-offs.

“Today was a reality check in the sense that if we are not at our best then we can come unstuck against anybody.

“We started the game well and were the better team before Sunderland grew into the game and scored. It was a really good shot but I was really disappointed because we could have done much better leading up to the corner and then dealt with the short corner better.

“The second half we came on strong and there was only going to be one team going to win it and I thought it was us.

“Our composure in and around the box wasn’t quite what it should have been. It was another learning curve for us because Sunderland came and sat off us and allowed us to have the ball. I don’t think we quite won enough headers, didn’t pick up enough second balls.

“Second half we were a lot more front-foot and a lot more aggressive with and without the ball. I don’t think there would have been any complaints had we won the game.

"But give credit to Sunderland for stopping us. How far we've come from a play-off final last year to looking to get into the play-offs this year, we're still in a fantastic position. We've proved a lot of people wrong that wrote us off at the start of the season. But we've got to keep doing that.

"For us to keep punching above our weight we've got to be at our very best every minute of every game.

"I'm not knocking the performance, not at all. Here at The Den, 1-0 down at half-time, it's a tough place to be as a home player. But we came back really strongly and should have won the game."

Sunderland are now seven games without a win, but Black Cats boss Chris Coleman was pleased with how his players stood up to the challenge at The Den.

“They’re unbeaten in nine games. Neil is doings super job, they put a lot of balls into your box and you have to fight against it,” Coleman said.

“We may have lacked quality but I have to give credit to Millwall for closing the space down.

“I thought we deserved a point, but based on the second half probably not more than that.”

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly