BE­WARE, LIONS

Iron hot favourites but Har­ris in­sists: Don’t write us off yet

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE PLAY-OFF SEMI-FINAL - By Jack Miller

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.

Tac­tics

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.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

KEY MAN JOSH MOR­RIS Scun­thorpe BLUE WALL: Scun­thorpe's Stephen Daw­son is thwarted by Shaun Hutchin­son and fel­low Mill­wall de­fend­ers

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