Millwall boss after win over Villa: 'The players deserved it – they've worked tirelessly'

NEIL Harris praised the “outstanding” Lee Gregory after the striker inspired Millwall to a comeback win at home to Aston Villa on Saturday.  

Tammy Abraham gave Villa a seventh-minute lead, before Shane Ferguson equalised 20 minutes later and Tom Elliott made it 2-1 three minutes into the second half.

Millwall continued to press forward and limited Aston Villa to just one shot on target after the break, Ben Amos dealing with Jack Grealish’s 25-yard shot.

Villa couldn’t deal with Gregory’s movement and hold-up play as he put in one of his best performances in a Lions shirt.

“It was outstanding,” Harris said of the 30-year-old’s display. “He has the bit between his teeth at the moment, he’s been in goal-scoring form. He’s led the line brilliantly. We’re playing to his strengths at the moment. I’ll be honest enough to admit that in our poor run of results leading up to this week we’ve not been at our best, and we’ve not played to individual strengths.

“Sometimes you just have to go back to basics and remind the players what they’re good at, remind the team what individuals are good at, and sometimes we can’t take it for granted that just because some of the players have played for me for so long that they just know what they’re doing.

“It was about getting back to basics on the training pitch and the boys got their reward.

"The players deserved that, they’ve worked tirelessly, we’ve had some horrendous luck. We’ve hit the woodwork again today [through Shaun Williams], I’d like to see that stats for the team that hits the post or the crossbar most, we must be right at the top of the tree.

“We dug in, we showed character to come from behind again. We played like a Millwall team at The Den, that’s important.”

Millwall had conceded eight of their 10 league goals at The Den in the second half of games this season, but apart from Grealish’s shot only had one other attempt on goal when James Bree’s header went wide.

Steve Morison came on for the excellent Tom Elliott with 16 minutes left as the Lions kept taking the game to the opposition.

“You have to adapt substitutions for formations you’re playing against, for what other teams do. Have I got it wrong in the past? Possibly,” Harris said.

“We can argue until the cows come home why we’ve been conceding late goals. Ultimately if you play in the opponents’ half in the last 10 minutes then they can’t score a goal.

“The boys have been great. We’ve talked about the attitude to train, the character and the positivity. It’s first class, you wouldn’t know if we were top of the league or bottom of the league, they’re just brilliant lads.

“We know where we are in this division and why we won’t be at the top of this league. We make the most of it and we get on with it.

“It’s a timely boost when we’ve got a two-week period now, not that we can live on this, but we can reflect on where we’ve gone wrong early on [in the season]. We can look at individuals and who’s not been playing well.

“I have to pick a team and rate my players in my own mind. Ultimately I talked about individuals not being good enough, up to their standards. Well in the last two games every player who’s gone on the pitch has played almost to the best of their ability.

“It’s no surprise that we’ve had two top, top performances, should have six points but have four. That’s the standard we’ve set and that’s what we’ll continue.”

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly