Millwall midfielder on why he welcomes new long-throw rival Ben Marshall

RYAN Leonard admitted the 0-0 draw with Rotherham put a dampener on last week after the high of beating Everton.

Leonard ranked the fourth-round win against the Toffees at The Den on a par with Southend’s League Two play-off final victory over Wycombe at Wembley in 2015 when the midfielder scored a penalty in the shootout.

The Lions dumped a fourth Premier League side out of the FA Cup in two years but couldn’t break down the Millers a week later and remain just five points above the relegation zone.

“It was a disappointing end to the week, if we’d got three points it would have capped off a brilliant week,” Leonard said. “It could have been worse, we didn’t play great but managed a clean sheet and got something out of the game.

“We have to take the positives from it. I think our two centre-backs were brilliant, they stood up to everything and they deserve all the plaudits. The rest of us didn’t do enough to get the goal that we needed.

“Everton is one of the couple of highs I’ve had in my career, especially when the last goal went in, it was probably one of the best goals I’ve celebrated. Obviously I’ve had a promotion but other than that nothing comes close to that moment.

“I spoke to the ref and he said there were 25 seconds left. They lined up to get the ball forward and we knew if we could win the first couple of headers we’d win the game. I was pleased that we could give the fans a memorable evening at The Den.”

Leonard made his mark in his September debut for Millwall when his long throw led to Jed Wallace’s goal against Leeds.

But he has a new set-piece rival after Ben Marshall showed his throw-in prowess against Middlesbrough and Rotherham.

“I didn’t know Marshy had a long throw until his first game, you don’t really have them in five-a-side training sessions,” Leonard admitted. “If he wants to take them that’s fine because there’s less running for me to do!

“You’d rather have more good players in those positions which is what we’ve got now. The gaffer has brought in Marshy and he’s added that bit of quality. We’ve got a lot of games coming up and I think every player is going to be needed.”

Just over a year ago Leonard made the move to Sheffield United but then switched to Millwall last summer in search of first-team football.

He has become a regular for Neil Harris and captained the side.

Leonard added: “I’m not the sort of person who regrets anything in life, you make the decision at the time. It didn’t quite work out at Sheffield United, but the gaffer here put his faith in me and I’ve really enjoyed my time here.

“I look back over the last six months and have fond memories. I’m settled here, my family is more settled and I’m really happy here.”

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly