Millwall can be a match for anyone at ‘hostile’ Den, says boss Harris

Neil Harris hopes Millwall can grab another chance to exploit The Den’s “hostile atmosphere” with a home draw in the FA Cup fifth round.

Championship strugglers Millwall knocked out Everton in Saturday’s 3-2 fourth-round win, with Harris now eagerly awaiting Monday’s draw.

Marco Silva’s near full-strength side appeared overawed by a raucous crowd and relentless driving rain, leaving the Lions boss hoping for a repeat performance in the next round.

“I’d like to play at home, I like playing at The Den,” said Harris. “It always gives us an opportunity to win.

“I think we like to create a hostile atmosphere.

“I really like my players to play in those big games in front of our fans. When this place gets going and you’re playing the big games there’s no better atmosphere in English football. I’m not making that up.

“We like to play attack-minded, aggressive football. We’ll scrap for every ball, we’ll run with teams, compete for everything.

“The elements on Saturday, the atmosphere, the rain, the wind, it’s always going to make it difficult for the opponent.

“People came to see a cup upset and thinking, ‘Millwall, that’s a tough place to go for a Premier League team that aren’t in good form’.

“We have to play on that, of course we do.

“We asked questions, we asked Everton if they could break us down, and they found it difficult. Then we asked them if they could stand up to us with balls in the box and they couldn’t.”

Harris was speaking before the Football Association announced it had launched an investigation into alleged racist chanting at the match, with Millwall pledging to ban for life any fans found guilty of racist abuse.

The hosts’ victory was also marred by a man suffering a face wound in clashes in Southwark that the Metropolitan Police believe was a fight between fans of both clubs.

But on the pitch, left-back Murray Wallace slotted a cool injury-time winner to stun Everton after Jake Cooper had bundled home a late equaliser with his arm.

Former England Under-20s defender Cooper laid on Lee Gregory’s first leveller before his own controversial goal.

The 23-year-old now boasts six assists and four goals in 17 home games for Millwall this term, more than any other defender in England’s top four leagues.

Millwall defender Jake Cooper (left) has scored four times this season (Victoria Jones/PA).
Millwall defender Jake Cooper (left) has scored four times this season (Victoria Jones/PA).

Harris admitted Millwall will never shy away from playing to their strengths, especially on home turf.

“He’s 6ft 6in and he attacks the ball really well,” said Harris.

“We know what we are, even at Championship level when you’re playing Premier League clubs you’ve got to make the most of any opportunity.

“And set-plays are always going to be key for us. Utilising Jake’s strengths is a big part for us.”

Everton manager Marco Silva was critical of his side's defending against Millwall (Victoria Jones/PA).
Everton manager Marco Silva was critical of his side’s defending against Millwall (Victoria Jones/PA).

Everton boss Silva fired a warning to his players that he will not continue to tolerate such sub-standard defending, with the Toffees leaking all three goals from set-pieces.

“We have been working together the past six months and we have to achieve things faster,” said Silva.

“When you are winning games and scoring goals there is no reason to give away free-kicks.

“With the players we have, you cannot permit these types of situations. You are playing for a big club at a high level.”

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