LIONS ROAR AS SWITCH PAYS
Half-time tactical change pays dividends for Harris
MILLWALL boss Neil Harris identified a halftime tactical switch as the catalyst for his side’s impressive victory over Championship high-flyers Sheffield United at The Den.
The Lions took an early lead through Lee Gregory, but David Brooks’ volley restored parity before Mahlon Romeo and Jake Cooper struck in the second half.
The Blades remain in third, while Millwall ended a six-match winless run and moved up to 18th, seven points clear of the relegation zone.
Despite taking the lead, Harris believes his team were lucky to reach half-time on equal terms.
“They showed why they are in the top three in the division and rightly so they got back on level terms,” said Harris.
“We had a conundrum at halftime. Do we leave it as it is and hope that we get back in the game and our 4-4-2 shape dictates play? Or do we change it?
“We made a brave decision to change to a 3-5-2 to match them up and you’ve got ten minutes to do it and try and get messages to players.
“Then you put them out there and you say, ‘Okay, you’ve got to learn yourselves, you’re going to have to adjust what you do’.
“The players were outstanding. They’re never going to let me down on effort, determination, desire to play for this club, and today there were some real moments of quality as well.”
Millwall started the brighter, but the vistors had the first shot when John Lundstram’s strike deflected wide off his own player. Brooks then went down in the box after leading a Blades breakaway, but was cautioned for diving.
Millwall’s bright start was rewarded when a Gregory flickon released Jed Wallace down the right, and he cut inside and fed Steve Morison. Gregory expertly controlled Morison’s return pass and fired across goal into the net.
Good work from Chris Basham saw Jordan Archer save from Brooks’ weak shot as Sheffield looked for an instant reply.
Millwall almost doubled their lead from James Meredith’s long throw, but a flying Jamal Blackman denied George Saville.
On 40 minutes, Mark Duffy clipped a beautiful cross-field ball for Brooks to volley home the equaliser at the far post.
With 25 minutes to go, Gregory dispossessed a Blades defender and fed the advancing Romeo, who beat Blackman to fire the hosts ahead.
Wallace then danced through the Blades’ defence, but his toepoke was deflected behind.
Cooper should have added a third but failed to connect with Shane Ferguson’s inviting freekick from the right, but Millwall continued to control the game and pushed for another to kill of the contest.
The deserved third came with three minutes left to seal an impressive victory. Cooper rose highest to meet Wallace’s inswinging free-kick and his header hit the bar and just crept over the line.
Blades boss Chris Wilder felt his team were outfought and deserved to lose.
He said: “The blame 100 per cent lies with me and the team. We haven’t done enough to win.
“This game wasn’t won tactically, it was won because they got to more first and second balls from the off. When we got to grips with that, we didn’t punish them when we were on top. We made a mistake, nothing tactical.
“For 20 minutes we didn’t find the second goal, which we should have done. We make a mistake, they score and we’re chasing the game.
“They scored the third when we gave a ridiculous free-kick away. You have to understand it’s coming into the box, they have some big boys, they’re a threat at set-pieces, so don’t give a freekick away, stay on your feet.”
ALL SMILES: Jake Cooper celebrates scoring Millwall’s third goal, inset
KEY MOMENT: Mahlon Romeo puts Millwall into the lead