PREVIEW: Blackburn Rovers vs. Millwall

NEIL Harris revealed he spoke with Kevin Friend after last weekend’s 2-2 with Middlesbrough – but stressed he wasn’t blaming the referee for the result.

Harris said after the game he would be seeking out Friend after Boro scored in the seventh minute of injury-time when five minutes stoppage-time had gone up on the fourth official's board.

Harris explained he had no problem with the sixth minute of time added on, but felt Friend should have blown his final whistle when Jiri Skalak headed away Ryan Shotton’s throw-in after the game had ticked into the 97th minute. Instead, Boro returned the ball into the box and George Friend poked home the equaliser.

Lions boss Harris stressed his side would learn from their mistakes after losing a 2-0 lead with three minutes left, as he emphasised that the responsibility for dropping two points ultimately rested with his side rather than the official.

“I had a good chat with him. As far as Kevin is concerned he did nothing wrong,” Harris said. “I was very clear afterwards in not moaning about the fact that he put a minute on for [Millwall] time-wasting. It was the fact that within that minute he added another 15 seconds on. That was Middlesbrough’s time, they had the ball for that minute, they took their time on a throw-in and a free-kick.

“When Jiri heads that ball clear he should have blown the whistle. However, again, let’s make it clear: I’m not blaming the referee for the result, we should have defended our box better.

“There were three things. First, the game went on too long. Second, we should defend the box better. And third, we needed that little bit of luck. He strikes the shot and it hits one of our players and three red legs and ends up in the back of the net on the next touch.

“Lesson learned for us from the weekend, definitely. Me and my staff and players look at that and say we should have stood firmer. There were a lot of late goals in the Football League last weekend and you can probably put that down to tired legs, tired minds.”

Millwall will have the chance to make up for it this weekend by getting three points on the road at the first time of asking when they face Blackburn. Last season the Lions didn’t get that first win away from home until January, when they beat Leeds United 4-3 at Elland Road.

Blackburn were promoted from League One last season after finishing second, and have done some sound business in this transfer window.

Tony Mowbray signed 21-year-old striker Adam Armstrong on a permanent deal from Newcastle. Armstrong scored nine goals in 21 games on loan with Rovers last season.

Mowbray also recruited midfielders Jacob Davenport from Manchester City and Joe Rothwell from Oxford United.

Like Millwall, Rovers were denied a win in injury-time last weekend. They were leading Ipswich 2-1 at Portman Road in the 91st minute when Tayo Edun rescued a point for the hosts.

Both managers could name the same sides that started against Boro last weekend.

Probable Millwall starting XI

4-4-2: Archer; Romeo, Hutchinson, Cooper, Meredith; J Wallace, Saville, Williams, O’Brien; Gregory, Morison.

Match odds

Rovers 7/5 Draw 21/10 Millwall 2/1

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly