Simple approach paid off for Millwall as players showed ‘they care’ with gritty victory at Southampton

Neil Harris has talked about how much Zian Flemming’s goal affected his half-time teamtalk and strategy for the second half in Millwall’s 2-1 win at Southampton.

The Dutchman scored from the penalty spot in the 44th minute to restore the Lions’ lead.

Japhet Tanganga had headed Millwall in front after just five minutes at St Mary’s Stadium before Che Adams levelled in the 34th minute.

The Lions put in an excellent defensive display to retain their advantage and make it a successful return for Harris, who was appointed head coach on Wednesday.

Asked what Flemming’s goal did in terms of his half-time plans, Harris said: “It changed in the sense that if we had gone in at 1-1 then we might have had to be a little more aggressive in our approach without the ball – just pressed a little bit higher at times.

“But it so hard to do that because I’ve had such limited time with the players. Sometimes you have got to go with what works – what is simple.

“We wanted to get after their goalkeeper when he had the ball – press higher up the pitch – but we had a way to set up against them. They changed the way they built and made it tougher for us.

“You try to change it at half-time and if you get it wrong then you get opened up. We went with a mid-block and a low-block because it worked for the players. The players wanted to do it and believed in it.

“It gave us that hope and belief – something to protect. We felt going in at half-time that as much as they’d had all the ball and shifted it from side to side they hadn’t created lots of chances. If anything I was disappointed with the goal we conceded. A cross in the box – from my team – we try to limit things like that.

“We didn’t have to adjust too much at half-time, just protect our full-backs a bit more – if that meant dropping into a back five then so be it.”

Harris was all smiles after his winning return to the Millwall hotseat.

Asked what he had learned about his players in his first match back at the helm, the club’s all-time record goalscorer said:  “That they have got character, spirit and desire to play for this football club. They are in it together and ,when they need to, they can grind and dig it out. The biggest thing is that they care.”

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