MILLWALL under-21 manager Neil Harris said he expects Billericay Town to be challenging for promotion after they pushed his young side to the wire in their latest pre-season friendly.

The former Southend United striker was full of praise for Craig Edwards’ side, who took the lead before conceding moments after half-time and in the dying seconds, to lose 2-1 to the Championship side’s academy stars.

Harris said his players had to stay switched on throughout the game and sang his youngsters praises.

“This was a tremendous work-out for my boys,” said Harris. “My younger players really had to play at the best of their ability today and were excellent throughout, which is credit to Billericay.

“After this performance I would expect to see them challenging at the top of the league come the end of the season.

“I saw Billericay play against Southend a few weeks ago and they proved to me then they were a good side.

“They dropped off towards the end of the match, but we had to be alert to their counter-attacks and movement. I think in the end our fitness showed and made the difference.”

The match saw Harris come up against close friend Alex Fiddes, Billericay Town’s assistant manager, and he said he would be pleased to support the non-league side throughout the season by loaning them players. The Lions loaned out Jack Powell to Concord Rangers at the end of last year, with positive results.

“It was great to see Alex and I am sure he will do very well alongside Craig,” he said.

“I would like to be able to support them throughout the season if I can and if they are looking for a loan player or two I would be happy to speak to Craig about it.”

Millwall return to south Essex next weekend, when they will play Concord at the Aspect Arena – giving Harris another chance to face-off against an old friend.

“Danny Cowley is another old friend of mine,” he said. “One of my young players (Powell) spent a month there last year and came on nicely so we look forward to that game and hope we learn as much as we did against Billericay.”