Iron hot favourites but Harris insists: Don’t write us off yet
EARNING JUST a 0-0 By ChrisdDrauwnlianvtyhe home leg of a play-off semifinal is normally seen as a missed opportunity, but don’t tell Neil Harris that.
The Millwall boss is adamant his side will now embrace the underdog mentality that suits them so well as they head to Glanford Park looking to shock Scunthorpe today.
A dour goalless draw at The Den on Thursday night has left the Iron as favourites to reach Wembley on May 20, but recent history shows that you write off Millwall at your peril.
Last year, the Lions made it all the way to the League One playoff final – before losing to Barnsley – and it took a late Shaun Hutchinson header in a 4-3 win at Bristol Rovers on the final day of the regular season to earn them a top-six spot this term.
So, Harris isn’t worried about overcoming the odds as his squad have gone through this sort of experience before.
“We’d love to have a lead going into the second leg, but as a club we’re at our best when we’re the slight underdog,” said a bullish Harris.
“Credit to Scunthorpe. They defended very well. They were a little bit lucky at times, with the ball falling to them in their own box. Can they defend that well against us second time around? We’ll have to see.
“When you play well and go toeto-toe with a really good side, you have to be satisfied that you’ve played well, and we did.
“We have to make sure we’re every bit as secure and resilient again – and we’ll create chances for sure.
“In front of their fans, the onus is on them to come and attack us, and we’re capable of scoring goals away from home.
“We’ve shown that all season and at Bristol last week.
“We are capable of re-creating the same intensity in the second leg, despite the quick turnaround.
“There’s a lot of experience in my dressing room and a lot of fresh legs to come in as well if needs be.”
The first leg was more or less mission accomplished for Scunthorpe as they stifled the Lions.
Lee Gregory spurned the game’s one gilt-edged chance on 26 minutes when his weak effort was repelled by the legs of Scunthorpe stopper Joe Anyon.
It took 80 minutes for the Iron to get a shot on target, and even then Josh Morris’s free-kick didn’t exactly stretch Jordan Archer.
In addition to an impressive third-place finish in League One this term, Scunthorpe also have not conceded a goal against Millwall in the last two meetings at Glanford Park.
Everything is pointing to the Lincolnshire side moving within one victory of a return to the Championship for the first time since the 2010-11 campaign, but manager Graham Alexander is not getting ahead of himself.
“I don’t know Neil’s game plan or tactics for the second leg, but I know they’re not going to give anything away or give up,” said Alexander, whose side beat the Lions 3-0 at home but lost 3-1 away during the regular season.
“They will come to us and try to win the game, just like we will.
“It’s two good teams and we know each other reasonably well, having played three games already this season.
“That’s one win each and a draw so far, so we’re evenly matched, but we’re good at home and we’ll need to score goals if we’re to win the tie.
“We finished the season off in really good form and we want to continue that.
“We have to reset all the buttons and go again.”
KEY MAN JOSH MORRIS Scunthorpe BLUE WALL: Scunthorpe's Stephen Dawson is thwarted by Shaun Hutchinson and fellow Millwall defenders