Millwall roar to vic­tory as fight for the Den drags on

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - SPORT - By Robert Dun­ford

In a week in which it was an­nounced Millwall may be forced to leave the Den, the club wrote an­other chapter into the his­tory of their sta­dium by caus­ing one of the up­sets of the third round.

Yet de­spite this com­pre­hen­sive vic­tory, Neil Har­ris be­lieved his Millwall side could have done bet­ter de­spite out­play­ing their lack­lus­tre, if un­der­strength, Premier League op­po­nents. Goals by Steve Mori­son, Shaun Cum­mings and Shane Ferguson left Har­ris proud, but he said: “I don’t think we par­tic­u­larly did much dif­fer­ent than what we nor­mally do – I might sur­prise my­self when I watch it back.

“I thought there was a lot of ef­fort and good shape, we pressed the ball at the right time, de­fended re­ally well as a team. I said to the play­ers, three-nil doesn’t flat­ter us – in my opin­ion we could have scored more.

“We guessed that Bournemouth would make changes be­cause they’ve got a big few games com­ing up in the Premier League and they’ve got a very tal­ented squad.

“If you’re try­ing to cause a Cup up­set you’ve got to play to your strengths. We knew there could be a good at­mos­phere there to­day. We knew that Bournemouth would want to come and play foot­ball and that to have any chance in the game we would have to press high.

“But we’ll swap that vic­tory to­day for three points at Charl­ton next week – that’s how big the game is. The play­ers and the fans will en­joy watch­ing the draw, and I will sit on the sofa with my kids and en­joy watch­ing it.”

The ques­tion now is whether foot­ball will be watched at the Den for too much longer af­ter the League One out­fit re­vealed they may have to leave south Lon­don af­ter a con­tin­ued land dis­pute with Lewisham Coun­cil.

The club were de­ter­mined to en­joy this fix­ture, how­ever and, af­ter Bournemouth made 11 changes from their draw against Ar­se­nal, the hosts were quick to take ad­van­tage. A poor clear­ance by Bournemouth goal­keeper Adam Fed­erici, af­ter he was chal­lenged by Lee Gre­gory, fell to Mori­son with a view on goal, but he per­haps hur­ried his first-time shot too much and steered the ball wide.

Suc­cess for the home side fi­nally ar­rived on 26 min­utes – an in­swing­ing cor­ner by Shaun Wil­liams found the head of Mori­son, who made up for his ear­lier miss with a well-aimed ef­fort. Millwall could have dou­bled their lead in the 34th minute when, af­ter a pow­er­ful run, Fred Onyed­inma was able to slot through to Gre­gory, but was just un­able to put his sub­se­quent ef­fort on target.

The score­line changed five min­utes af­ter the restart in favour of the home side when Fed­erici failed to keep hold of a low cross by Mori­son, al­low­ing Cum­mins to steer home from six yards out. It was hard to be­grudge the League One side their two-goal ad­van­tage, as they looked more fo­cused than their much-changed Premier League op­po­nents.

A third goal for Millwall was al­most de­liv­ered when Ferguson shot across the face of goal af­ter the hour mark be­fore a low strike in in­jury time put the tie be­yond any doubt.

Bournemouth strangely lacked ideas against their hun­grier and more in­dus­tri­ous lower-league op­po­si­tion and man­ager Ed­die Howe could not de­fend the per­for­mance of his side.

“No com­plaints in terms of the result, Millwall de­served it,” he in­sisted. “This is a tough place to come to. When the crowd got be­hind the home team as soon as we gave them the first goal I thought it was go­ing to be a dif­fi­cult af­ter­noon.

“In hind­sight, I re­gret the changes. I haven’t been forced, but my hands were tied a bit. We’re so stretched be­cause the Premier League is so demanding and we feel we need our best play­ers avail­able for se­lec­tion.

“I can’t dis­guise how I feel. I can’t try and look for too many pos­i­tives at this mo­ment. I don’t think the play­ers threw in the towel, the play­ers didn’t play their best but it was a very dif­fi­cult game to watch.

“We’re very much a team that re­lies on un­der­stand­ing of how we gel – build­ing on-field re­la­tion­ships is the key to us.”

Li­on­heart: By­ron Web­ster wheels away to cel­e­brate Steve Mori­son’s open­ing goal

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