There was a different feel at The Den for Millwall’s 1-0 season opening win over Preston North End on Saturday.

Neil Harris’s kept true to his words and revamped his squad over the summer and the buzz of excitement and optimism in the stands was clear as Jed Wallace’s first half volley gave the Lions 2019/20 season a perfect start.

Leading the line for Harris was possibly his most important signing of the summer, Matt Smith.

The former Oldham, Leeds United, Bristol City and Fulham man made the move from QPR across London to South Bermondsey with a weight of expectation on his shoulders.

Despite the pressure to fill the void left by influential Lions’ forwards Lee Gregory and Steve Morison who both departed this summer, Smith already feels settled at his eighth club and believes the new buzz around SE16 is the reason for that.

“It’s been an easy integration for me,” the 30-year-old said.

“It’s probably the easiest I have experienced, I’m not sure if that's because I am a bit older and wiser, but the vibe I’m getting from within the camp is that the team spirit and the camaraderie is another level to what is was before.

“There’s a real air of positivity.

“I can openly say it's a fantastic dressing room to be in.”


Neil Harris buoyed by Millwall's win over Preston North End

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(Neil Harris)

Alongside Smith, Frankie Fielding who made way for fellow debutant Bartosz Bialkowski in goal through injury, Conor Mahoney, and the now permanent skipper Alex Pearce all made their debuts against Preston.

'Solid Bench-mark'

Despite the comfortable victory and the undoubted lofty targets the Lions fans harbour after their impressive 2017/18 eighth placed finish, the 6’6” forward remained level headed when it came to setting targets for the season.

“Improvement is the aim of the game.

“It’s a new group and will take time to gel, but certainly the early signs are positive.

“The club would like to turn in what they did two seasons ago with that fantastic finish, but you can't get carried away because you will come unstuck quite easily.

“With the group we have got here and what we have shown here against Preston, I think we have set a very solid bench-mark and that's one we want to try and maintain and continue going forward.”

One of the more difficult Championship away days offers Smith and Millwall to test their credentials out on Saturday as the travel to The Hawthorns to take on Slaven Bilic’s hotly tipped West Brom fresh off an opening day victory over Nottingham Forest themselves.