Millwall boss pinpoints reasons for defensive resilience – but wants more clean sheets

MILLWALL didn’t concede a second-half league goal at home for the first time this season – with Neil Harris highlighting organisation, discipline and “hard work on the training pitch” as reasons for their resilience.

Before Saturday’s 2-1 win over Aston Villa at The Den, the Lions had let in eight of nine goals at The Den after the 73rd minute, but they limited Kevin MacDonald’s side to just one shot on target after the break, Jack Grealish’s effort that was saved by Ben Amos.

James Bree also sent a header wide, but Millwall never allowed themselves to be pushed back too deep in their own half, and their attacking ambitions and desire to keep Villa pinned in was evident with Jake Cooper still going forward late on for free-kicks.

Harris also replaced Tom Elliott with Steve Morison to ensure Villa’s defenders couldn’t easily carry the ball out of defence.

Millwall kept 18 clean sheets in the Championship last season, but have kept just one this campaign, away at Blackburn on the second day.

Harris is targeting more shut-outs for his side, after the weekend’s positive defensive performance.

“There was one header in the second half that went wide, a couple of long-range shots that Ben dealt with really well,” Harris said.

“Defensively we looked organised, disciplined and solid.

“Forest only had two shots against us and scored three goals. The law of averages says if teams only get three shots against you every game they can’t keep scoring goals. We will get back to a clean-sheet mentality, that’s where we want to be and that’s where we were last season.

“It’s the discipline of the players, it’s the hard work on the training pitch, it doesn’t just happen that you don’t give chances up. It’s back to what I said before: basics for us as a group.”

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly