HARRIS: OURS TO LOSE NOW
MILLWALL manager Neil Harris believes his team can put the disappointment of defeat behind them and still seal a League One play-off place.
Millwall remain in sixth place by a point after play-off rivals Southend and Rochdale both failed to win.
But this slumbering performance hardly inspires confidence ahead of a decisive away trip to Bristol Rovers.
An early Conor McAleny double and Josh Ruffels’s second-half header lifted Oxford up to ninth.
Harris said: “That’s a really poor Millwall performance. I’m hugely disappointed but our fate is in our hands so there is absolutely no point dwelling on this result.
“We still in a really great position. From November time onwards, if you’d said go to Bristol Rovers on the final day to get top six, I’d have snapped your hand off and I’m not going to forget that.”
Harris admitted his side suffered nerves but is confident a play-off place is theirs for the taking.
He added: “There were a lot of nerves out there but I didn’t detect them before the game.
“The last 60-odd games we’ve played go completely out of the window next week.”
The Lions started the day in sixth, whilst Oxford sat tenth with their play-off hopes over.
Despite early pressure from the hosts, Oxford took the lead after five minutes when McAleny fired in from the edge of the box.
The winger, on loan from Everton, then doubled the lead, cutting inside from the left and curling into the far corner.
Neither side could muster another shot on target during a frustrating half for the hosts.
Millwall’s Aiden O’Brien was put clean through on the hour mark, but fired straight at Simon Eastwood.
Oxford sealed the game when Ruffels nodded in Chris Maguire’s corner at the far post on 70 minutes.
An increasingly desperate Millwall could not respond leaving Oxford head coach Michael Appleton delighted with his team’s performance, despite having nothing left to play for.
He said: “It was outstanding, really.
“To come here and play well was the first thing we were looking to do, but to do it in the manner we did and a couple of the goals we scored especially was very pleasing.
“We knew had to be patient at times. What we didn’t want to do was get sucked into their style of play.
“For us to start as well as we did with the two goals was really good.”
Appleton also reserved praise for two-goal hero McAleny.
He said: “We wanted to bring him in two or three times before we finally managed to sign him.
“He’s shown again he’s got a hunger to score goals and I think he was trying his hardest to get a hat-trick.”
STAR MAN CONOR MCALENY Oxford POINT PROVEN: Conor McAleny, on loan from Everton, celebrates after Inset: scoring Oxford's second goal