BEN Thompson reckons if Millwall fans recreate the same atmosphere they did on the opening day then it will spur the Lions on to bigger and better things this season.
Lions supporters made it a cup-like game on the opening day as the hosts defeated Preston 1-0 at The Den.
Millwall face Sheffield Wednesday at home this Saturday, aiming to build on a win and a draw in the Championship this season.
The Lions defeated the Whites thanks to Jed Wallace’s goal.
“Everything about it was brilliant, we worked hard in pre-season and it paid off in the first game,” Thompson (above, left, with Wallace) said. “We’ve still got 40-odd games to go but the atmosphere was second to none as always, with 15,000.
“The noise towards the end of the game when everyone’s knackered and blowing up a bit pushed us on to see out the victory.
“When the fans turn up in their numbers they can get right behind us and spur us on. Towards the end of that game I felt tired and leggy. But the chants, the noise they create in the stadium really pushes you on in the final 10 or 15 minutes. That’s really needed and if we can get that this season then we’ll do a lot better than we did last season.”
Thompson was involved in Millwall’s winner, when he dropped a shoulder to go past Alan Browne and find Connor Mahoney, whose left-wing cross was turned in by Wallace.
Thompson feels a loan spell at Portsmouth in 2018-19 has hugely brought on his game. But he was initially disappointed to find himself at Pompey at the start of last season.
“At the time I was a bit down, I was a bit gutted because I knew I wasn’t going to be involved in a Millwall shirt,” Thompson admitted. “The loan was the best option for me to go out and get games and get my confidence back.
“It all worked out in the end and I’m back playing in a Millwall shirt. I’m grateful to Kenny Jackett and Joe Gallen for what they did with me, they brought on my game massively and I feel so much more confident in myself now.
“Kenny knew the situation at Millwall. He wanted to play me at Portsmouth, and I was three games in and did really well but then had a couple of games where I wasn’t really at it. He was speaking to me all the time, making sure I was alright and settling down in Portsmouth.
“He pulled me aside and said, ‘you grab the shirt, this is your shirt to win’. The communication between me and him was brilliant and he gave me the confidence to go out and play the best football I could. It’s helped me ever since. After that I played nearly every game and it was a great learning curve.
“I’m just trying to replicate that now and do it for the club I love. The manager here has more confidence in me now so it’s worked out.
“I’m not afraid now to do things on the pitch that I know I can do but maybe before I held back a bit. There were times last season when I felt so confident I was doing things out of the blue and off the cuff. It’s a brilliant feeling to have, going out there with no fear.
“The first game of the season I was a bit nervous, that’s normal, but once you’re out there you’ve got to express yourself. I want to carry this on.”
Millwall fan Thompson is now one of the first names on the team sheet, though he knows he can’t take anything for granted after Harris said he would rotate his starting XI more this season.
And Thompson knows giving it all on the training pitch will increase his chances of playing.
He added: “The manager, Dave Livermore, Adam Barrett, they’ve all been at us making sure we’re training properly. The standards last year weren’t the best they could be so this year they’re right on us.
“All the players want to do well, we want to train at 100 per cent and attack every day. That’s massively important this year, that we keep training standards high and take that into a match-day.”
Image: Millwall FC