The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - By James Ayles

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

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