BY JAKE SANDERS
Neil Harris described Millwall’s defending as “unacceptable” after his side were beaten 2-1 at Bolton Wanderers to remain just one point above the Championship relegation zone.
After a scrappy first-half encounter, the Lions fell behind just three minutes into the second period after Pawel Olkowski skipped past James Meredith and curled into the far corner. Less than 12 minutes later, 35-year-old Gary O’Neil was given the freedom of Bolton and ran almost half the length of the pitch before firing past Jordan Archer.
Lee Gregory provided late hope with his first Championship goal since mid-December, but it was too little too late.
Harris said: “Have you seen the goals back? The first-half was very scrappy – probably what I expected in a clash with where we are at the moment.
“I spoke to the boys at half-time about carrying on doing the nitty-gritty stuff, the nasty stuff. Make sure we compete and add some quality. We had a brilliant week’s training, again, the lads give me everything.
“But the goals we gave away were poor. I can’t keep saying the same things. It was just really poor one-v-one defending when the players don’t do enough. And then you’re chasing the game. Disappointed individually – massively. It is a poor result for us today.
“People have jobs to do. And Gary O’Neil, who is not a spring chicken anymore, runs from virtually the edge of his own box to the other end of the pitch and scores. We get three players behind the ball before he gets his shot away. It goes back to what I said – one-v-one defending, not acceptable.”
Tom Elliott missed a late chance to earn the Lions a draw – and Harris explained why he started with two strikers.
He said: “We have tinkered with a shape and played more of a footballing shape, but don’t create any chances. That is okay against a footballing side and you can counter on teams, but I wanted to come and win the game today and be positive.
“Tom Elliott has got the best win-percentage ratio in a Millwall shirt. We score more goals, concede less and win more games when he is in the team. I wanted to show faith in Lee because he has been my top goalscorer for four years in a row. I wanted to play two up front.”
PICTURES BY SEAN GOSLING