NEIL Harris called his side’s defending “embarrassing” after Millwall conceded two late goals to lose 3-2 to Sheffield United at The Den on Saturday.
After Ben Amos saved Billy Sharp’s penalty, Sheffield United went ahead through Sharp five minutes before half-time.
Millwall turned the game around within five minutes of the restart, Jake Cooper levelling in the 47th minute and Lee Gregory firing the Lions ahead three minutes later.
But David McGoldrick in the 79th minute scored from the spot – after Shaun Williams had given away his second penalty of the afternoon – to make it 2-2, before the Blades forward tapped in with a minute left to hand Millwall a sixth league defeat in seven games.
Millwall are 23rd in the Championship after 10 games.
“If they can read and write, then they should be able to see where we are in the table,” Harris said. “Table doesn’t lie, it never lies. It can give a false impression at times early on, but ultimately the results haven’t been good enough, the performances haven’t been good enough and we have to dig deep at these moments.
“We have to stick to our beliefs and do what made us so good last year. But, ultimately, individuals have to perform better than they are. That’s the bottom line, they have to play better. Because some of them have not hit standards they have hit in the past for me, and that’s why we are losing games.
“If the dressing room has got anything about it now, they should lift themselves, because I keep lifting them. I keep going into games and into meetings, I keep picking them up and somewhere along the line as a player – and I was a player for a very long time – you need to stand up and be counted.
“And I thought some of the players didn’t do that today towards the end of the game. If they want to do their jobs properly and they want to be considered for team selection they need to show more leadership and more quality in themselves at key moments and it might sound a little bit harsh, but it’s time for harsh words.
“We have lost another game at home that we were leading with 10 minutes to go and, obviously, I am extremely disappointed. There were loads of positives: I thought Lee Gregory was outstanding; a good penalty save from the goalkeeper; character to come back from losing at half-time in a nothing game in the first-half. But, ultimately, we have thrown points away again.”
Harris wasn’t sure if Sheffield United’s penalties were warranted.
He said: “I need to see the penalty decisions on the big screen, I have got to be honest.
“I need to see them again, but at the time and what I have seen on the laptop, both were extremely harsh. Both looked marginal calls. They are the sort of things that go against you, but we can blame a referee and say they are marginal calls, but, ultimately, for the first and third goals the defending is abysmal. I was very careful not to swear then. It’s embarrassing."
Millwall have conceded six of their eight league goals at The Den after the 73rd minute. Harris was asked later if there was a reason for that, and he said: “Concentrating in the group. Winning mentality, I guess. I have changed shape various times at the end of games. I stick to a formation to put trust in players to try and see games out, but whatever we have done has gone against us.
“We can talk about bad luck or goals against us and there has been good goals here against us, but today is ultimately poor goals.
“Really, it’s people not doing their jobs, that’s what it boils down to.”
Image: Millwall FC