BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Neil Harris felt his Millwall side showed bravery in the second half of Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Bolton Wanderers – with Mahlon Romeo replacing Conor McLaughlin a statement of intent.
Right-back Romeo was a 61st-minute change for the Northern Ireland international.
“Mahlon is a little more attack-minded than Conor,” said Lions boss Harris. “Conor has done nothing wrong but I felt we had to be braver with the ball, make more passes in and around the midfield zone.
“We had to try and move their shape and their holding midfielder around. In the second half we were very good at it.
“I’m delighted we got a point from the game because it was the least we deserved. Bolton sat very deep and didn’t really come with any attacking intent, only when they counter-attacked.
“The caught us with a sucker punch for the first goal and defended for their lives after that. Losing big Tom [Elliott] on the half-hour mark troubled us in the sense we had to adjust our game.
“But we had a couple of moves just before half-time that were really good – we moved the ball in good areas. It would have been a fantastic team goal if either Ryan Leonard or Aiden O’Brien had scored.
“We spoke at half-time about finding a different way to use the ball – pass, move and rotate. There were some really good passages of play in that second half – patience, quality and you could see the momentum building as the half went on.
“We fully deserved the goal and in some ways we were a little bit unlucky we didn’t go on to win the game.”
Harris also restored James Meredith at left-back with Murray Wallace benched.
“Murray has had a run of games and done really well,” said the Lions chief. “It isn’t easy stepping up a level and he’s adapted really well.
“He’s got better and better at left-bakc but I just felt against [Sammy] Ameobi, who is a top player at this level and certainly Bolton’s most dangerous player, that James was possibly more suited to the one-v-one battle.
“James played with a real point to prove. He made some really good, telling interceptions, was very aggressive against Ameobi and did a good job on him.”
Jordan Archer returned in goal with Ben Amos ineligible and made an early double save from Will Buckley and Jason Lowe.
Asked if it was a late call to select Archer ahead of David Martin, Harris replied: “No. I was always going to play Jordan.
“It was an ideal start for him [with the double save]. He’d have been delighted to find his feet so early on in the game. He’ll be disappointed to concede a goal at home but it was a strong performance.
“Yes, he didn’t have a huge amount of saves to make, because we had the majority of the ball, but what he did he did well.”