MILLWALL had little to play for against Aston Villa on Sunday – but Lions boss Neil Harris demanded the side finish on a high after their excellent season.
Harris told his players at a meeting last Wednesday that he expected them to get three points against Villa, who are in next weekend’s play-offs.
His side responded with a performance of aggression and conviction, winning 1-0 through Shaun Williams’ first-half penalty.
It was one of their most impressive performances of the season given the disappointment of seeing their play-off chances ended the previous weekend against Middlesbrough.
Lee Gregory could have made it 2-0 but missed a late penalty, against a Steve Bruce side that wasn’t at full strength but showed hoe deep their squad is.
“They’re an excellent side because they finished above us in the league this year, and we’re a good side. Even with the changes Steve made in preparation for two big games next week it was still a very talented side,” Harris said.
“They made it difficult for us but I was delighted with the character of the boys, the spirit in the camp. Sometimes tactics go out the window. We’d lost our previous two games in disappointing fashion and it cost us our play-off spot.
“I said to the boys before the game that with these kinds of games at the end of the season when we have nothing to play for, it’s all about the temperament and the spirit within the squad.
“You saw a top Millwall performance and I’m delighted we finished the season with three points. I’m massively delighted to get more than 70 points, that’s a huge achievement for everyone at this football club.
“Any more than 1-0 would have flattered us. I thought with the heat the game was played in and the fact that we couldn’t make the play-offs it was a great game of football played at a good tempo.
“Credit goes to my players for that. I made it very clear to the players last Wednesday – and you’d have to ask them what I mean by that – what I expected. I told them I expected three points and a finish to the season that typifies what we have achieved this year.
“I gave an opportunity to some players who had been chomping at the bit to get in. I wanted to win. We were never going to make sixth spot but I wanted seventh, and Preston pipped us to that so well done to them.
“For us to finish eighth in this division given the calibre of teams and players we face, and to get to 72 points, is a great achievement.”
Image: Millwall FC