MARTIN’S STUNNER RESCUES MILLWALL
Shake-up at break fires Lions
MILLWALL manager Neil Harris believes it is still too early to be able to identify this season’s League One promotion candidates.
The Lions boss was speaking after his side came from behind to earn a valuable draw at home to Bradford – a team Harris’ side defeated in last season’s play-offs.
Joe Martin’s superb right-footed strike earned the hosts a point after they fell behind to Byron Webster’s unfortunate first-half own goal.
Harris praised his side’s character while admitting the Lions were far from their best, especially during a troubled first period.
“We were very reactive rather than proactive in the first half,” Harris said. “We didn’t get ourselves into positions quickly enough. I said let’s up the tempo in the second half. If we were up to our usual standards then we would have got all three points.
“We had a few near misses. The luck was slightly with them, but there’s no complaints from me about getting the three points as were weren’t at our best at all.
“The crazy schedule hasn't help with our squad.Shane Ferguson was a huge miss, but we hope they come through international duty unscathed.”
Martin’s second-half strike preserved Millwall’s unbeaten home record.
And Harris revealed the defender, struggling with a shoulder injury, was only able to muscle his way into contention following a light training session on Friday.
“Joe wasn’t even in contention before Friday morning,” Harris continued. “He wanted to play, he wanted to train Friday morning and then he was in contention. It’s just a muscle in the shoulder that’s the main problem.”
The draw leaves the Lions just three points off top spot but Harris isn’t getting carried away by any early-season optimism.
“It’s still too early to tell about how the table will shape up,” Harris added. “You get teams with injury problems and others that are flying. About ten-12 games in is when I start looking at it properly.”
Bradford boss Stuart McCall praised his side’s resilience after earning a creditable draw, despite
missing eight key players. And the Bantams could have stolen all three points in stoppage time after Nicky Law was denied by goalkeeper Jordan Archer’s brilliant tip on to the post.
“We had eight of our squad unavailable so we’re happy to come away with a point,” McCall said. “We carried a threat on the break and at the end we might have won the game. If we’re honest a point is a fair result.
“Next week we’ll have three or four players back and have a stronger squad to choose from.”
McCall returned to Bradford as manager after former boss Phil Parkinson had departed for fellow League One side Bolton.
The Bantams sit second, just two points adrift of top spot leaving McCall delighted with his side’s start to the season.
“When Phil left, it hit people quite hard at the club,” McCall added. “To have 12 points already after six games is a great effort from the players.
“There is a lot of strong teams in the division, but we've got great belief. Coming to Millwall and getting a point is a good result. They will be right up there again this season. But there are five or six teams I expect to be challenging.”
With players returning from injury, McCall expects his side to continue their good form but is refusing to set any targets.
“When we get players back I expect us to be very competitive,” he said. “There is a lot of strength in this division but we haven’t got any specific targets.
“We’ve got a lot of good professionals who can handle expectation and hopefully we can rise and perform to our abilities.
“There is a lot of Championship players playing in this league and that makes for an extremely strong division.”
WRONG WAY: Millwall's Byron Webster scores an own goal
MIGHTY JOE: Millwall's Joe Martin celebrates scoring, inset, with teammates
THINKING MAN: Millwall boss Neil Harris