Harris hits late Lions winner
Record scorer gives Millwall their first-ever play-off win
By Ben Collins. Last Updated: 09/05/09 3:25pm
Harris: Salutes match-winner
Neil Harris came off the bench to give Millwall a first-leg advantage in their League One play-off semi-final with Leeds.
Millwall's all-time record goalscorer replaced the injured Jason Price early on before grabbing the game's only goal in the 71st minute.
Harris' 117th goal for Millwall secured a win they just about deserved and gave the Lions their first-ever play-off win at the ninth attempt.
Leeds will be confident of fighting back in Thursday's return leg, though, having won their last 11 home games.
A hard-fought first half of few chances saw Leeds threaten in just the second minute, top scorer Jermaine Beckford holding off Zak Whitbread to latch onto Richard Naylor's punt forward and test David Forde from the edge of the box.
Millwall replied with a quick free-kick diverted by Leeds defender Jonathan Douglas towards Andy Frampton, only for the Lions' left-back to volley wide from 15 yards.
The hosts then saw on-loan Price hobble off, completing a miserable week for the 32-year-old, who was released by parent club Doncaster on Thursday.
The final ball was lacking from both sides, so Harris took to carving out his own chance, cutting inside Ben Parker and having a shot blocked by Sam Sodje.
Beckford then chased on to a smart ball over the top by Neil Kilkenny and the ball fell to Luciano Becchio, but the Argentine striker fired wide before heading tamely at Forde from a Robert Snodgrass cross.
A brilliant block from Whitbread prevented Beckford from opening the scoring early in the second half after a smart interchange with Becchio.
Sodje then did well to prevent Whitbread getting on the end of a free-kick from half-time substitute James Henry, before Leeds keeper Casper Ankergren was called into action for the first time, diving superbly to his right to keep out Harris' instinctive flick.
That was the catalyst for a spell of pressure from the home side, and as the noise cranked up a level, Gary Alexander made space and fired wide from the edge of the box.
Beckford cleverly turned Whitbread to create his best chance but he curled a right-footed effort well wide from 20 yards.
But the deadlock was broken 19 minutes from time after Alexander raced on to a long ball by Nadjim Abdou down the right.
Alexander squared the ball into the box and Naylor misjudged his header, allowing Harris to control and hold off Douglas before firing into the bottom corner from 12 yards, sparking a mini-pitch invasion.
Leeds were unable to break down Millwall's rearguard action late on and Frampton headed a Henry free-kick just over as the Lions caught Leeds on the break.
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|2||Milton Keynes Dons||46||91|
|3||Preston North End||46||89|