Millwall boss 'at a loss' to explain Preston defeat

A frustrated Neil Harris said his side keep giving themselves a “mountain to climb” and felt the 3-2 defeat to Preston on Saturday summed up their season.

The Lions were 2-0 down at half-time after Preston scored from their only shots on target in the half through Alan Browne and Tom Barkhuizen.

Jake Copper scored his fourth goal of the season after half-time and Millwall had a number of opportunities to level before Andrew Hughes’ free-kick eight minutes from time beat Jordan Archer.

Lee Gregory scored in the 93rd minute but the Lions couldn’t fashion another chance to try to rescue a point.

“I’m at a loss [to explain it], I’ve got to be honest,” Harris said. “It is our Groundhog Day, isn’t it? We conceded probably five or six chances in the whole game and conceded three goals. We created 10 clear-cut chances and scored two. Ultimately we got nothing from the game.

"For 35 minute or whenever it was we went behind I can’t remember Preston being in our penalty area. There were a couple of 30-yarders that went into the crowd. They haven’t got near our goal.

“But two times the ball goes in our penalty area in the first half and we’re 2-0 down. You just cannot give opportunities like that, you cannot defend like that around your penalty area at this level and expect to get away with it. In the lower leagues you can, you can give seven or eight chances away and you can win the game.

“We’re just giving ourselves a mountain to climb all the time because we’re always a goal behind.

“Second half we changed shape, we changed personnel bringing Fergie [Shane Ferguson] on and I thought we were excellent, we were absolutely excellent.

“We put pressure on them, created numerous chances, we must have had chances into the double figures. We score two but we’ve got to score five or six in that second half.

“Just when it gets to the last 10 and you think we can have a right go, the third goal goes in. I need to see it back as to how the ball ends up in the back of our net, I think it’s a ricochet and in.

“If you ever wanted 90 minutes to sum up our season so far that was it in a nutshell.

“I can’t keep saying it’s bad luck, people have to take responsibility. They’re brilliant lads, they have great camaraderie, I love working with them every day. But ultimately we’ve just conceded too many goals this year.

“I have to be honest enough to say we have to change what we’re doing, or I have to change personnel. It pains you to say it because I love the boys, they’re absolutely brilliant.

“We’re conceding the first goal in too many games. We’ve scored more goals this year than [at the same stage] last year. We’re creating more chances, we’re giving up less chances. All the stats are stacked in our favour. We’ve got more percentage of play, we’re just conceding too many goals, that’s the bottom line.

“We have to be realistic. If we can’t improve our results then something has to change, something has to change. I love my job, so that ain’t changing. I have to change the players, and that’s not a threat, it’s just the reality.

“We have to be better. I don’t care if people are here until the end of the season or if they’re here for seven years, if they don’t perform better than they are then I’ve got to change them.

“As a player when I was in the dressing room having difficult spells you’re just asking for the backing of your manager, you’re asking for the backing of your supporters. They know I support them.

“Our supporters have been brilliant, absolutely brilliant. They got frustrated at half-time and I get that, I’m frustrated.

“They come out second half and they react, the performance encourages supporters and the supporters get behind the team.

“Yes we’re all in it together and we’re disappointed and if we’re in the bottom three tonight it might be the best thing to happen to us. It pains me to say it but when the players wake up and smell the coffee, we have to defend better.

“We’ve got a really tough game next week against Stoke, who’ve got a budget about five or 10 times bigger than ours, but we’ve got to compete. If you don’t compete and don’t defend your penalty area better you’re going to get beaten.”

Image: Millwall FC 


John Kelly