NEIL Harris is hoping for a “much more relaxed” Den when Millwall welcome Nottingham Forest on Saturday for the last game in south Bermondsey of 2018.
The Lions defeated a Reading side that played for 79 minutes with 10 men before finishing the game with nine on Boxing Day to move out of the Championship's relegation zone.
Millwall dominated the first quarter of the contest as Jed Wallace put them ahead but then endured some nervous moments after Reading took the initiative and hit the crossbar through John Swift’s 72nd-minute free-kick.
Lions supporters were at times frustrated with their side’s performance as the Royals had the majority of the possession, though without really testing Jordan Archer, who had just two relatively comfortable saves to make.
It was Millwall’s first win in nine games, and took them up to 20th before the visit of 10th-placed Forest at the weekend.
“I’m hoping for a much more relaxed atmosphere within the stadium. My players will feed off that,” Harris said.
“It gives you a chance to build momentum. We have three vital games in seven days. Seasons can be won and lost at Christmas and Easter.
“That quick turnaround, we need to utilise these games and get as many points as we can.
“The league table looks a lot healthier when you win today, you can see teams above you again. But we have to follow it up Saturday.
“I don’t just expect us to turn up and win. I expect us to compete with Forest and be as good as them, impose our game on them and grow from today’s result and the performance at Stoke.”
Wallace’s eighth-minute free-kick was his third in the league this season, and his first winning goal since the 4-3 victory at Leeds last January.
Harris said: “He showed his importance to us and his quality at this level. I thought they were two great free-kicks. Jed's goes in and Swift's hits the underside of the bar and comes out.
“That's maybe that little bit of luck we haven't had over the last couple of months. Jed grew into the game and if we had got that second goal then we might have got three of four.”
Meanwhile, Harris was asked about the Lions players out on loan, including the two most likely to be involved with Millwall for the rest of the season, Fred Onyedinma and Ben Thompson.
He said: “All loan players are available for recall next week, Ben not for another, I think, 10 or 11 days. We’ll make decisions as we go along.”
Image: Millwall FC