SHAUN Hutchinson praised the “terrific” Millwall fans last Friday – and insisted the side will continue to “thrive” being the “underdog”.
There was a season-high attendance of 17,641 at The Den and even though the home fans saw they’re side beaten they gave them a standing ovation after the final whistle.
Despite the loss, when they conceded three second-half goals, Millwall stayed sixth and if Derby lose at home to Cardiff on Tuesday night the Lions’ play-off fate will be back in their own hands.
“We’re enjoying the rollercoaster that we’re on at the moment,” Hutchinson said. “People ask me if I wish I could find out now rather than at the end of the season but I say, ‘nah, I’m enjoying it’.
“It’s part of playing for Millwall and overachieving. [Friday] we lost but I’m still enjoying where we are and the challenge. It was in front of the Sky cameras, full house – I thought Millwall fans were terrific.
“In the first half especially they definitely made it hostile for them. They are the games that you want to play in, you don’t want to be in mid-table or relegation scraps.
“The gaffer says it as well, they’re coming in their numbers because they’re supporting us and appreciating what we’re doing. The players appreciate them coming, it definitely helps us when they are like that.
“The goal at the start of the second half maybe deflated them as much as us, but we have to make sure if we concede a goal in the next two games we don’t deflate like that.
“Everyone seems to be writing us off. Well, it’s Millwall and they say no one likes us. I’m finding out as a player that’s generally the case.
“But we thrive off it as well, we thrive off being underdogs and enjoy it.”
Millwall felt referee Andre Marriner didn’t help them against the Cottagers. He blew for a foul before George Saville thought he had given his side the lead, and boss Neil Harris said he gave the visitors too much protection.
“It is frustrating,” Hutchinson admitted. “He’s in the Premier League and maybe isn’t used to the physical aspect of the Championship. It felt as if at times there were just too many [free-kicks]. I’m not being critical of him, it just seems to be the way football is going. It didn’t help us.
“Looking back at the goal as well it seemed perfectly fine. There were a lot of fouls that went against us and it was frustrating but at the end of the day it’s not the reason we lost the game. We lost because they scored more than us.
“Things went against us but we move on.”
Millwall conceded in the first minute of the second half to Slavisa Jokanovic’s side, and Fulham added two more to end their opponents’ 17-game unbeaten league run.
Hutchinson said: “It’s one thing we’re normally quite good at, getting going after restarts and on the front foot. That was a sucker punch, the last thing Fulham needed was confidence like that and that’s what we gave them. It deflated us a little bit.
“We know they like to keep the ball and it’s harder when you’re chasing the game. It opened up the game a little bit and fair play to [Kevin] McDonald, he’s put it in the top corner [for the second goal].
“They’re a tough side. They’re the most in-form team at the moment and I don’t think anyone wants to play them.
“But so are we. We need to pick ourselves up after this and not be too deflated. We’ve got a massive two games to go and we need to make sure they we play like we have been playing, like the first half [Friday] and that will give us a good chance.
“We created enough chances against a good team so there are definitely some positives we can take. The key is not to get too down.
“When we were nine or 10 games into the unbeaten run we were aware of the last four games of the season knowing they were going to be tough. We’ve put ourselves in a great position and we don’t want to throw it away now.”
Millwall face Middlesbrough and Aston Villa in their last two fixtures in the league and Hutchinson added: “They are tough games against teams that have got something to play for, but, as I keep saying, I’d rather that than playing mid-table and relegation games. This where we want to be.”
Image: Millwall FC