Lions boss learns plenty from first-half misfire at Colchester

COLCHESTER 2
Szmodics 20 Vincent-Young 31
MILLWALL 1
Wallace 90

BY Jake Sanders at Jobserve
Community Stadium

It may only be pre-season, but Millwall manager Neil Harris will have learned a lot from his side’s dreadful first-half performance at Colchester United on Tuesday evening.

The Lions boss was in no mood to hide his emotions, either. He furiously barked at his players to swiftly make their way to the dressing room at half-time, with the majority trotting off the JobServe Community Stadium pitch at their own lethargic pace.

Friendly or not, it was an unacceptable display from the Lions.

They were slow, outrun, outplayed, and performed the way you might expect from a team in the first week of June, not 11 days before the start of the Championship season.

Despite this setback, if you can even call it that, Millwall have enjoyed a relatively successful pre-season.
Harris admitted after the game that 98 per cent of the past six-weeks have been excellent. Colchester’s two first-half goals were the first that the Lions have conceded.

Sammie Szmodics put the League Two side in front and Millwall had barely recovered by the time Kane Vincent-Young doubled their advantage.

The Lions did enjoy a brief spell during the opening period, where they should have levelled.

Shane Ferguson and Aiden O’Brien stung the palms of U’s goalkeeper Dillon Barnes before Onyedinma somehow failed to convert from close-range with his head.

Harris rang the changes in the second-half, introducing Lee Gregory, Mahlon Romeo, Jed Wallace and Jake Cooper as his side looked to salvage a result.

Millwall did improve after that, but still didn’t manage to test Barnes until the very last minute.

Gregory picked up the ball inside his own half and advanced deep into Colchester territory before combining well with Steve Morison and Ryan Tunnicllife to fashion a chance for Wallace, who expertly guided a curling effort into the far corner.

It was never going to change the outcome of the result but did cap an improved Lions display in the second-half.

The goal was more evidence of the kind of quality that Wallace possesses.

It was his third in as many games in pre-season after his brace at Dartford in early July. The former Portsmouth and Wolves winger looks a certainty to be named in Harris’ starting 11 against Middlesbrough a week on Saturday.

Wallace will be looking to improve on the six goals and nine assists he provided in the Championship last term, which earned him plenty of plaudits from Lions fans.

One position that does look up for grabs, is the left side of midfield.

O’Brien will be looking to make that role his own after struggling for game time in the second half of last season, due to injuries and the form of Ben Marshall. He started against Colchester and didn’t exactly enhance his chances of nailing down that position.

Millwall looked short of attacking options and last night suggests that they require at least one or two more players in that position after failing to secure the services of Marshall earlier this summer.

Next up is Saturdays friendly against German side VfL Bochum – which is Jimmy Abdou’s testimonial.

Not only is it an opportunity for the Lions favourite to be rewarded for a decade with the club, the current crop need to use it as a final bid to cement or muscle their way into that league opener against Boro.

Abdou will start the game and play the first five minutes before receiving a standing ovation from The Den crowd.

From then on in, it will be back to serious business against a VfL Bochum side that have already scored an astonishing 50 goals in pre-season.

Millwall: Amos, McLaughlin, M Wallace, Webster (Cooper 75), Meredith (Romeo 62), Ferguson (Gregory 62), Saville, Tunnicliffe, O’Brien (J  Wallace 75), Morison, Onyedinma. Not used: Martin, Brown, Hutchinson, Williams, Thompson, Elliott, Brown.

 

PICTURES BY BRIAN TONKS

 


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