Millwall boss praises Smith for impact at West Brom – and gives update on Romeo injury

NEIL Harris expects Matt Smith to be a regular goal scorer this season after the striker came off the bench to get off the mark for the club and rescue a point at West Brom on Saturday.

Smith scored 15 minutes from time 11 minutes after being introduced for Murray Wallace and fired into the roof of the net after a Lions corner had led to a scramble in the box.

Millwall lost Mahlon Romeo to injury four minutes before Kyle Bartley gave the hosts the lead in the 57th minute when he headed home Matt Phillips’ free-kick.

The Lions ended the game with Ryan Leonard playing right-back, but finished strongly with Smith a real threat.

“He was a handful, wasn’t he?,” Harris said. “I’m delighted for him that he got the goal. He could have had eight goals in pre-season, I’ve never seen someone with such bad luck through a run of games.

“He’s a player that can score a lot of goals for us, the way we play, the way we can dictate set-plays and get up the pitch.

“He can score goals in this team.

“It’s another real positive for the group, that we showed the character, the belief and the confidence to come back after conceding a really disappointing goal, and at a place like this to then go on and look so threatening with the changes.

“It’s a great position to be in to be able to make the subs that I have in the last two games, it shows where we’re at.

“To limit West Brom to what attacking threat they had, they’d a lot of the ball but didn’t get near our penalty area for long periods. I was delighted with the shape of the team and we deserved a point.

“Being able to bring Smudge on, and Jon Dadi [Bodvarsson], and let’s not forget Fergie [Shane Ferguson], an international full-back, and still have the quality on the bench that we did shows to the players that win, lose or draw I’m prepared to change the team, change the shape in certain games to suit us and to suit the opposition.

“It also shows the players that they’re going to be needed and they’ll feel valued. I was really pleased with the impact of the subs coming on.”

Bart Bialkowski, making his first Millwall start, came to his side’s rescue in the first half when he saved Kenneth Zohore’s close-range effort after Phillips had robbed Jake Cooper of possession.

Harris added: “The disappointment was conceding the goal the way we did was poor, we should do better from that set-play. The other opportunity for them came from us giving the ball away on the edge of our own box.

“I’m really pleased for the team that Bart was able to show his qualities as a goalkeeper in that moment.”

Millwall don’t know yet what the problem was with Romeo. Harris said: “I’m not exactly sure. I think he might have got a poke in the eye or a bang on the head. I was too wrapped up in the game to take much notice.”

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly