BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Tom Elliott has revealed Neil Harris’s half-time team talk on New Year’s Day was only suitable for adults – but that the Millwall manager had every right to lose his rag.
The Lions needed a half-time switch to revitalise their fortunes at Ipswich Town.
Club captain Steve Morison replaced James Meredith at the break and had a big hand in two of their three goals as they finally ended their wait for an away Championship win this season.
Elliott, 28, put Millwall 3-1 ahead. The former AFC Wimbledon man also won the penalty for Shane Ferguson’s equaliser and then set up Jake Cooper to put the South Londoners ahead for the first time on the afternoon.
Asked about Harris’ reaction at the break, the big striker said: “He wasn’t the most polite. I wouldn’t put children in there, you’d have to be 18 and over – maybe 21.
“He’s a passionate guy, a passionate manager and he had every right to be angry at us so. We came out in the second half and we used his passion in a positive way and reacted.
“First half we were below par. I’d say that and so would everyone else – that we were miles below it. We weren’t showing the quality that we have.
“I don’t know if the boys were tired, because we’ve had three games in six days, but we came out for the second half and showed that we can dig deep. We showed that we have that heart, spirit and togetherness. We’ve done that a lot this season, coming back into games – look at Nottingham Forest [away] and Aston Villa. Now we’ve done it again.
“I was below par but it’s one of them where everyone in the team is going to dig deep. Your touch and passing might not be there, but you’re going to keep going and keep going. We are a good team, a strong team. We’ve got nine points out of nine over the Christmas period.
“We’ve had two good home wins and we knew Tuesday that we were probably the favourites.
“It was the hardest game of the three to be honest as it wasn’t the best pitch or the best conditions – we knew that they’re fighting for their lives at the minute.
“We made it hard for ourselves but we got the three points and that’s what matters.”
Elliott was brought down by Ipswich captain Luke Chambers for the spot kick.
With Shaun Williams and Lee Gregory both ruled out due to injury, the striker was the next designated penalty taker after Ferguson.
But there was no chance of the scenes seen at Craven Cottage earlier in the festive schedule, when Fulham’s Aboubakar Kamara defied team orders by taking their spot kick against Huddersfield last week – instead of Aleksandar Mitrovic – and failed to convert.
“I was just running on to the ball and my eyes lit up because I was going to have a chance on goal but then I got wiped out,” said Elliott.
“Willo’s taken most of them this season and scored two or three but Fergie sent the keeper the wrong way. As long as it goes in the back of the net it’s a good penalty.
“I was next to take one if Fergie didn’t fancy it – but we didn’t want to fight after seeing the Fulham game last week.
“It’s not professional. Before the game you’ve got to decide who’s going to take it and then it’s sorted. It’s not a professional thing to do on the pitch, is it? If you miss the penalty and go and lose the game it’s bad but luckily Fulham won. That’s for Fulham to worry about – we don’t have that here.”
Millwall have opened up a six point gap on 22nd-placed Bolton Wanderers – effectively seven with their superior goal difference.
“Not many teams have picked up nine points over this period so it’s a massive step,” said Elliott. “But obviously we don’t want to settle on that, we have to build on that. We’ve got Blackburn after the FA Cup before two tough away trips, but we beat one of those sides [Derby] at The Den and drew the other [Middlesbrough].”
It remains to be seen if the win over Ipswich – after 10 defeats and three draws in their previous forays away from The Den – is the catalyst for an upturn in travel form.
Millwall had been winless in eight fixtures until the 1-0 Boxing Day success over Reading.
“Even that game was nervy in the last 10 minutes or so,” said Elliott. “I don’t know if it was because we hadn’t won in so long.
“When the final whistle went [at Ipswich] it was just such a relief because we hadn’t had that away win.
“Now we’ve got it in the bank, we can go on from this, learn from it and keep going. Hopefully we won’t keep conceding last minute and making it hard for ourselves.
“Sometimes when you keep losing it’s in the back of your mind but you’ve just got to work hard. The gaffer’s been on at us and coaching us. We did it and overcame that obstacle.”
Please support your local paper by making a donation
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.