Neil Harris says his Millwall team responded to the challenge he set them by recording a convincing 4-1 victory over Colchester United at the Den on Saturday.

In-form forward Lee Gregory opened the scoring for the Lions, before Shane Ferguson doubled the hosts’ lead shortly before half-time.

Colchester’s Chris Porter halved the deficit shortly after the break but goals from Ferguson and Byron Webster secured the comfortable win.

Millwall were unbeaten in eight games before the international break and Harris challenged his team to maintain their impressive run ahead of the match against Colchester.

MORE: Fraeye underlines importance of Jackson after City win

The 38-year-old explained: “We were eight unbeaten and really good before the break. I said to the boys before the game, the challenge is can you do it again, can you start again?

“They certainly answered that challenge from the manager. The good teams win the next game.

“I’m delighted with the goals we scored but I thought we could have had a few more and we can be better than that.

“The key was our shape, organisation, confidence and quality in the final third.

MORE: 6 examples of extreme dedication from fans

“Tony [Humes] will be disappointed that his defenders have made a couple of errors but you’ve still got to have that ability to capitalise and our front four did that today.”

Gregory slotted home his ninth goal of the season on 13 minutes, and should have entered double figures when he knocked the ball around goalkeeper Jamie Jones only to strike the post 10 minutes later.

However, the Lions did reach the interval with a two goal cushion as Shane Ferguson took advantage of a defensive blunder to beat Jones.

Harris’s side should have secured the win after the break but Aiden O’Brien missed a glorious chance from five yards out.

MORE: Millwall loanee discusses 'tough' Chelsea experience

Colchester reduced the deficit moments later when sloppy defending gifted Chris Porter an opening, but goals from the impressive Ferguson and defender Webster secured the three points.

“Shane [Ferguson’s] a great lad, he’s added some balance to our left-hand side and real ability to the squad.

“He took his two goals very well, he was hugely disappointed after missing a chance at Blackpool but was in a similar situation today and scored both.

“He works hard on his game, he’s often the last one on the training pitch practicing free-kicks. Credit to him today, hard work pays off.”

MORE: Chelsea monitoring Palace ace ahead of transfer move

Aiden O’Brien, who had scored in Millwall’s last two games and has been linked with a move to several Championship clubs after enjoying a superb start to the season, impressed once again for the Lions.

“As ever he was lively and a threat, his use of the ball is good, he’s infectious and makes things happen,” Harris added.

“He’s a good player, he’s got a lot to learn and a long way to go but he’ll be a good Millwall player for years to come.

“He’s a great lad as well. He typifies the type of character we want.”

Follow us on Twitter @NewsShopperSprt