Millwall boss disappointed at lack of supply line for Matt Smith – and demands more set-play protection

BY RICHARD CAWLEY

Neil Harris was critical of Millwall’s lack of quality in the final third in their 1-1 draw with Hull City today.

And the Lions manager also called for referees to clamp down on fouls on his players when they are attacking set-pieces.

Millwall did score from the spot as Jed Wallace rammed home when Matt Smith was brought down inside the area.

But Smith and Jake Cooper both appealed for penalties later in the half as Hull defended corners.

Harris said: “I just said to the players that I’m disappointed. In the sense that we got into some really good areas – dominated the second half territory wise and got into some great areas but didn’t deliver quality when we needed it.

“Okay Jed Wallace has almost scored. Ryan Leonard and Alex Pearce should score – but the amount of times we got into good crossing or shooting areas and turned them down was disappointing.

“We do loads of crossing and finishing, working to get into those areas, and today we didn’t deliver.

“Connor Mahoney had the best crossing stats in the division last year – that’s why I signed him – but he didn’t want to put the ball in the box.

“Matt Smith is a disappointed player in the changing room, with the service he got.

“We haven’t given a lot away and from three games here at the Den we have got seven points and we have got nine points from six. And a positive disappointment, if that makes sense, is that we should have beat Hull and we should’ve won at Boro last week.

“I can look at the disappointment of not having another four points but I can look at it and say: ‘It’s a good start to the season for us’.”

Harris – when asked about the spot-kick appeals for his side – said: “There was a lot of jostling. We could have had more protection on their set-plays. He kept giving fouls against us for blocking goalkeepers and things like that, but never gave us a foul for them not attempting to play the ball.

“We’re playing football – not basketball. I’m getting fed up watching players try and deal with my players at set-plays by cheating and fouling. We need more protection.

“I could probably go through eight or 10 instances in games where we get blocked off. All I want is consistency. If you’re going to give fouls against my players for blocking or stopping the opponent then fine – but do it the other way as well.

“We need more protection on our set plays. We’re good at them – we practise them a lot. We’ve got good delivery and players who can attack the ball. Players have to defend the ball – not men. At the moment we’re not getting the rewards we deserve from it.”

PICTURES BY BRIAN TONKS

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