RYAN Leonard admitted he was putting pressure on himself to get goals from midfield as he got off the mark against Ipswich on Saturday.
Leonard – Millwall’s record signing in the summer – chipped home to make it 3-0 to the Lions as they sealed three points against the bottom side.
Leonard was bought to replace George Saville – who scored 10 times in the league was season – and has become an immediate favourite with Lions fans.
“It’s nice. I have had enough shots, to be honest,” Leonard said. “It was nice to finally get one. I think the first one is always the hardest to get, you put a lot of pressure on yourself. Personally I put a lot of pressure on myself to try and chip in with a few goals. I have been a bit disappointed but to finally get the first one was nice, it was a good time in the game and I think it killed the game a little bit with the third goal and it managed to see us over the line.
“It was one of them where if you don’t catch it properly it goes right back to the keeper’s arms and it’s a bit embarrassing. It was nice that I managed to get good contact on it and as soon as I caught it I thought it had a chance. I thought the defender might have cleared it but luckily it had enough pace to go in.”
Leonard had also helped set up the second goal, when his long throw – a feature Millwall fans are becoming used to – was flicked on by Jake Cooper for Lee Gregory to get his second of the game.
Leonard said: “I think it’s a good option to have. We don’t always use it from the other side, but it can be a good option, especially with the way we are at set-pieces – we cause havoc in their box.
“I think it’s just another nice option to use. Thankfully enough we have got another goal off it. Big Coops has done well with a couple of flicks. It was nice to get that goal right after half-time, which the gaffer wanted, and it almost settled us down a little bit for the second half. If it keeps working, we will keep using it.”
Leonard didn’t win any of his first five games in a Millwall shirt, but the Lions have now won three of their last four games.
Leonard continued: “It was strange, because for me in the first month I think there were games we played very well apart from a couple, and we probably deserved more points than what we got.
“I think the boys have kept at it, which is what the manager wanted, especially in training and we are starting to get our rewards now. But it’s not something we can rest on.
“Our home form has been good, but our away form needs to be sorted now with a couple of away games. We need to put some work in on the training ground and sort that out a little bit and we will start climbing the table.”
Leonard paid tribute to Gregory, who got two goals.
Leonard said: “He did very well. He got clattered early doors, so to come back after getting caught in the first five minutes with two goals…I think they were two striker’s goals, in the box, getting the second ball, the knock-downs, two great finishes, especially the second one coming over his shoulder.
“He has been brilliant since I have been here. He makes some great runs going forward. He doesn’t always get the credit because he doesn’t always score as many goals, but I think recently his goal record has been brilliant and if he can keep firing them in for us then that’s great.”
Millwall next have two away games against Brentford and Norwich, as they chase a first win on the road this season.
“I think we need to be harder to beat away from home,” Leonard said. “We have not got as many points as we would have liked. Performances have not been great other than maybe the last couple of away games, but other than that we have not really played that well away from home.
“I think the games at The Den speak for themselves. We are at it, the fans are at it and they are great for us. Our away form needs to be sorted and luckily for us we have got a whole week to get on the training pitch with the manager and hopefully get it sorted.
“We know we need to improve it. It is quite obvious that our away form hasn’t been good enough and our results haven’t been good enough away from home. I think it would be silly for us not to know that.
I don’t think it’s not for the lack of trying. Everyone tries so hard away from home in games. I think we just need to manage games better and I think that will come with confidence from winning games at home.
“Eventually we will take it to the away games and do it there.”
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