Millwall boss on defending, Elliott selection and formations after Lions lose at Bolton

MILLWALL boss Neil Harris felt players failed to do their jobs in the 2-1 defeat to Bolton Wanderers on Saturday that leaves his side just a place and a point above the relegation zone.

Millwall conceded twice in the second half as Pawel Olkowski put Bolton ahead before 35-year-old Gary O’Neil was allowed to run from halfway before firing past Jordan Archer.

The Lions pulled a goal back through Lee Gregory with three minutes left but couldn’t force an equaliser as Bolton won at home in the league for the first time Boxing Day.

Harris was asked afterwards for his thoughts on the game.

“Have you seen the goals back?” he responded. “First half was very scrappy. Probably what I expected in a clash where we are at the moment. I spoke to the boys at half-time about carrying on doing the nitty-gritty stuff, the nasty stuff. Make sure we compete and add some quality. We had a brilliant week’s training, again, the lads give me everything.

“But the goals we gave away were poor. I can't keep saying the same things. It was just really poor one-v-one defending when the players don't do enough. And then you're chasing the game.

“Disappointed individually, massively. It’s a poor result for us today.

“People have jobs to do. And Gary O'Neil, who is not a spring chicken anymore, runs from virtually the edge of his own box to the other end of the pitch and scores. We get three players behind the ball before he gets his shot away. It goes back to what I said. One-v-one defending, not acceptable.”

Millwall ended the game with Ben Thompson, Jed Wallace and Ben Marshall in midfield, behind Gregory, Tom Elliott and Steve Morison.

Gregory’s goal was his 11th of the season and first in the league this year.

Harris added: “We put a few of the attacking players on to score and then that comes down to the quality in the final third, and that has certainly been missing in recent weeks.

“We could have made better decisions and added more of a clinical edge. The positive is that Lee Gregory’s back on the scoresheet, which is a plus for us, it will give him some confidence.

“But it's a disappointing result and one that I didn't expect today.”

After starting Morison against Norwich last weekend, Harris restored Elliott to the side at the University of Bolton Stadium in a 4-4-2.

Millwall’s last league win, at Derby, was based on playing 4-4-1-1.

“We have tinkered with a shape and played more of a footballing shape, but don't create any chances,” Harris continued. “That is okay against a footballing side and you can counter on teams, but I wanted to come and win the game today and be positive.

“Tom Elliott has got the best win-percentage ratio in a Millwall shirt. We score more goals, concede less and win more games when he is in the team. I wanted to show faith in Lee because he has been my top goalscorer for four years in a row. I wanted to play two up front.”

Harris was also asked about Alex Pearce’s selection at centre-back ahead of Shaun Hutchinson. He said: “Pearcy has been excellent.

“We had conceded eight goals in three games.”

Image: Millwall FC

John Kelly