Shake-up at break fires Li­ons

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - By Dan Lud­lam

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

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

MIGHTY JOE: Millwall's Joe Mar­tin cel­e­brates scor­ing, inset, with team­mates

THINK­ING MAN: Millwall boss Neil Har­ris

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