BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Ben Marshall is hoping that his performance in Saturday’s defeat to Leeds is the start of a strong finish to his Millwall loan.
The Salford-born winger stuck away a second-half penalty in the 3-2 loss at Elland Road – his first goal since hooking up with the Lions for a second temporary spell.
Marshall was a huge hit with Millwall fans when he initially arrived in January 2018. He netted three times and picked up six assists as the SE16 outfit came so close to snagging a Championship play-off spot – eventually falling just short to still finish an impressive eighth.
But the 28-year-old admits it hasn’t gone quite as smoothly this time around with the Lions unable to pull themselves clear of the survival scrap.
Lions boss Neil Harris reckoned that Marshall put in his strongest display since coming back in last weekend’s pulsating Championship clash in Yorkshire.
“Getting on the scoresheet was nice,” said Marshall, 28. “I felt like I had a decent game, one of my better games. I’m honest with myself. I came off thinking I did alright. In other games I’ve come off thinking I’ve not done so well.
“It’s been quite tough. It is a completely different situation than we were in last season. Then we were pushing for the play-offs. This season we want to stay in the league.
“It’s been difficult. I don’t think I’ve quite hit that level again. I’ve tried – I’ve been giving it my all. Sometimes it comes off and sometimes it doesn’t.
“I hope from now until the end of the season I can keep pushing on, play like I did against Leeds and help the team.
“If you look at last season I could put the ball in the box and someone would be on the end of it.
“As long as you put the effort in, show the manager and the fans that you care, that’s all I can keep doing. Hopefully it might be a bit of a turning point from Leeds. I obviously want to get the results to keep us up.”
Marshall’s spot-kick conversion – to make the score 2-1 early in the second half – saw some Leeds fans throw objects on to the pitch.
“They were giving me some and I thought I would celebrate in front of them,” said the former England U21 international.
“I’m sure they enjoyed it as well, giving me some stick. And I enjoyed rubbing it in their faces.
“I’m from Manchester and played for Manchester United [at youth level]. It’s a bit tasty. But I think they were just giving it to me because I celebrated in front of them.
“There were coins and a full Coke bottle, which I think had alcohol in it, which came flying towards me.
“It is dangerous but it’s an emotional game. In saying that, it’s not on.
“Leeds are a good side, aren’t they? You can’t give them too many chances. The goals we conceded were a bit sloppy.
“But in terms of our performance, I thought we gave them a good run for their money and were unlucky to get beaten.
“As soon as I knew I was going to take the penalty I tried not to think about it too much – just pick a corner.
“I was confident going into it, you need to be in those situations. I managed to put it home.”
Next up comes West Bromwich Albion, a Premier League club as recently as May, tomorrow.
“We have got a game in hand [on other teams at the bottom] and we could do with capitalising on that,” said Marshall.
“We’ve got two home games in a row and if we can get two wins out of them it will put us on a bit of a roll.
“At home we fancy ourselves against anyone – as you’ve seen in the FA Cup and against some big teams.
“The fans will be massive for us.
“I sat in the stands for the FA Cup games and it was brilliant. The fans were loving it and got behind the players. That’s a huge help.
“The quality we have got in the dressing room, we deserve to be in this league.
“I’m confident that we’ll be fine – but we need to get results.”