BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Neil Harris admitted his Millwall side failed to ask enough attacking questions of Swansea during Saturday’s 1-0 loss.
The Lions are depleted in their forward options with Tom Elliott (shoulder) and Tom Bradshaw (knee) both missing the Championship fixture in South Wales.
And Harris admits that it is a tricky balancing act to keep defensive solidity but maintain a threat in the final third.
There has only been more than one goal in their matches once since the end of November, the 2-0 home reverse to Blackburn Rovers last month.
“In Championship football the stats are overwhelming that the first goal is so key,” said Harris. “You’ve got to make sure you strike a balance between having a defensive mindset – being very hard to break down and beat – but also have a goal threat going forward.
“That’s the balance we are searching for continuously. Maybe away at Swansea we had the defensive side of the game and limited them to so little, but did we have enough attacking threat? We’ve got to make sure we get it right against Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday night, that we’ve got enough firepower to cause them problems.”
Millwall have failed to score in three of their last four league fixtures. Harris has switched to a 4-3-3 formation since mid-January.
“For 20 or 25 minutes at the start of the second half at Swansea we were really on top – a spell of really dominating – and put a lot of dangerous balls in the box and played some really good football,” said the Lions chief. “We just didn’t look like threatening the goal.
“That can be the trade off when you play with an extra central midfielder and lose a centre-forward – you can look really good with the ball but are you really threatening the opposition goalkeeper? We’ve got to work out that when we flick between systems and get the ball out wide, we have to get bodies in the box.
“I was really pleased with a lot of aspects – our defensive organisation was excellent. Our use of the ball was very, very good.
“It’s about when we bring Steve Morison on that people just read his cues and play it forward a little earlier, then get bodies around the knockdowns. I don’t think in the last 10 minutes we utilised that enough, his aerial dominance.
“When the chances come we have to be clinical. Jed [Wallace] and Mahlon [Romeo] had efforts on goal but the real one fell to Hutch [Shaun Hutchinson] and Coops [Jake Cooper], but Jake couldn’t get that final touch.
“All the time we are keeping it to ones and zeros at the defensive end of the pitch we have got a chance to win games at this level.
“It was real bad luck for their goal with the ricochet flying into the top corner. Other than that it was a good defensive display. We need that clean sheet mentality and realising the first goal is really important in games.
“We need a clean sheet mentality and first goal mentality.
“It’s about being that horrible, disciplined Millwall team that other teams hate to face. We’ve shown little signs of getting back to that. But it’s making sure we find the continuity and consistency in those performances.”