Harris hails Lions are securing survival

Manager Neil Harris hailed Millwall’s spirit after a goalless draw with Stoke helped secure Championship football for another year.

The point meant Rotherham had to avoid defeat at West Brom later on Saturday but a 2-1 loss ensured they will join already-relegated Bolton and Ipswich in League One next season.

Harris was delighted with how Millwall have kept their cool, with just one defeat in their last six matches catapulting them to safety after a gutsy display against Stoke.

He said: “We haven’t played at our best for a few games now, but the players care.

“They were all watching the tele downstairs waiting for other results because that’s how much it means to everybody.

“The time for summing the season up is going to be next Sunday. What I can say is my team battled and they ran and they challenged and they competed. They did everything that was asked of them.

“Stoke were better than us first half, their shape against ours. No complaints, we couldn’t enforce the game-plan because they were just so good with the ball.

“They were miles better than when we went up there a few months ago. Credit to Nathan [Jones] for that, where he’s getting them to.

“We changed the shape at half-time, I felt we had to get a higher press on the ball. We were much better second half, we were the better team.

“We can talk about moments when we gave the ball away, but every player gives the ball away. I think that is the stage of the season. Nervous? Yes, 100 per cent. I think that was clear to see.

“It means a lot to the players. What I would say to them is it shows they care.”

For Stoke, this marked their 21st draw of the season and their sixth 0-0 in 2019 but they had plenty of chances to win, with Benik Afobe and James McClean squandering fine first-half chances.

Republic of Ireland international McClean also hit the bar, while Jones was adamant they should have been awarded an early penalty.

The Potters seem destined to finish 16th but Jones was impressed with how they played, offering encouragement for next year.

He said: “We knew a few games ago now we weren’t going to be in the promotion picture which is disappointing, but it has afforded me the opportunity to work on things and evaluate the squad for the future.

“Here we had a couple of good opportunities and should have been given what was a stonewall penalty.

“He would have tapped that in but he clearly has his arm pulled, gets dragged down to the floor, knocked off balance, and the keeper makes the save.

“We were entirely dominant during the first half and yes the second half was a bit more end-to-end, we lost control a little bit, but we defended superbly well again.

“It is disappointing but listen, I am proud of the fact we are only playing for pride and trying to finish well for our fans, and we have come to another difficult place, played against a side with everything to play for and performed well.”