“There will be a lot that won’t come out. I want a group of players that are committed to the cause and professional.”
Millwall had guaranteed safety going into the last home of the season with Bristol City. It has been a long, diffciult campaign for Neil Harris' men and many would excuse the Lions if they already had their holiday booked and in holiday mode. However, a post-match press conference from Neil Harris where he promised to gut out the weeds that had taken root in the Millwall changing room stole the headlines and left the home fans speechless.
The game had a slow start and both sides were effectively cancelling each other out in the opening twenty minutes of the first half. Millwall were arguably the better side and an outsider would have mistakenly thought that it was the home side who were within a outside chance of the play-offs. With the first half being a late bloomer, the first half-chance fell to the Robins in the 21st minute when Mahlon Romeo expertly dealt with a Diedhiou effort and the follow up corner a minute later was well off target.
Clear cut chances were few and fair between and we had to wait until the 40th minute when the away side came close again. Weimannn delivered a lovely cross from out wide which was headed down into the path of Diedhou, but swiping at the ball like an angry gardener swiping at overgrown dandelions on an episode of Ground Force, the striker could not connect and the Lions were let off the hook.
Only a minute later, it was the home side who took the lead when the old school strike partnership of Lee Gregory and Steve Morison linked up well and rolled back the years. Rising well like an opening sunflower, Morison's knockdown was controlled superbly well and smashed home by Gregory to put Millwall into the lead.
The last chance of the half fell to the Robins when Paterson's side went wide of the far post and the half-time whistle indicated a steady opening forty-five minutes for the South Bermondsey side.
The second-half continued in a similar style to the first with more half-chances for both sides, but it was the Lions who should have taken the lead in the 54th minute. Sprouting from the ground and breaking away from the Millwall soil, Jake Cooper's header was good and looked like it would ripple the back of the net, but the far post saved the blushes of Bristol City and the follow up effort was cleared also.
Millwall looked more comfortable as the game went on, showing that the manure that had covered the side for the majority of this season had lifted and in the 72nd minute the Lions were awarded a penalty after Lee Gregory was fouled in the box. Handing over spot-kick duties to Shaun Williams, the ball was placed down on the penalty spot but the midfielder's daisy cutter barely troubled the grass and was easily saved by the City 'keeper.
Galvanised by the save, City were a different side and after being awarded a free-kick in the 76th minute equalised with a lovely curling effort that had David Martin well beaten and brought the score back to 1-1.
Only six minutes later the visitors scored the final goal of the game and managed to take the three points from Zampa Road when a draw may have been a more fair result. Some nice one touch football in and around the Millwall penalty area saw Diedhou with the ball at his feet within the 18-yard-box and his effort was blasted past Martin and into the Millwall goal. The home fans wilted in disappointed as this was another game that had seemingly been taken away from us and if it was not for a good David Martin block in the 88th minute, then the Robins would have had a third.
The final-whistle sounded and Millwall left the field in their last home game of the season tasting defeat. Neil Harris' post-match comments indicated that there is a lot of work that needs doing to ensure that our garden in SE16 is blooming with successful times to be proud of again, but if there is anyone who can sow the seeds of success in South East London, it is our club legend and record goal scorer.
Millwall: Martin, Meredith (McLaughlin 78'), Cooper, Williams (Elliott 87'), Gregory, Ferguson, Romeo, Pearce, Tunnicliffe, Morison, Leonard.
Subs not used: Amos, Skalak, Debrah, Mitchell, Alexander.
Bristol City: O'Leary, Webster, Brownhill, Diedhiou, Walsh (Palmer 46'), Weimann, Kelly, Paterson, Pack, Kalas, Hunt (Pisano 30' (Taylor 62')).
Subs not used: Dasilva, Wright, Eliasson, Eisa.