A huge roar went up at The Den seconds after kick-off.

No goal was scored, but a small victory where new signing Matt Smith beat Preston defender Patrick Bauer in the first of many aerial challenges of the fixture.

Pressure had been put on the 6’6” summer signing to lead the line this campaign, and judging by the crowds reaction, the former QPR man has already won the Lions faithful over with his commitment to proving Neil Harris was right in chasing the forward for the past 18 months.

“You have your personal battles over the pitch, when you feel like you have the better of your man and you win your battle, it's pleasing,” he said.

“Ultimately for me it's about providing a platform for the team to play off and there is going to be tough spells, but we certainly rode the storm at times, but that's the nature of the beast, that's the Championship.”


'Nervy? I wasn't ' - Neil Harris buoyed by Millwall's win over Preston North End

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Smith, 30, was always expected to start the season opener, but guessing his strike partner was not as straight forward.

Harris, with a squad boasting several new signings and a fresh aura around them, opted for the speedy Aiden O’Brien.

A partnership Smith believes worked well despite the limited minutes they shared in pre-season.

“It went really well, he’s a really good runner,” he praised the Irishman.

“I thought certainly in the opening five minutes, we got in on goal three or four times.

“He got in behind a number of times, caused them all sorts of problems, even in the first two minutes when he rolled that ball across goal, someone could have tapped that in.

“I thought he was brilliant, but I don't think you can really single anyone out, I thought the 11 plus the three substitutes were fantastic.”


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Smith or O’Brien may not have got on the scoresheet but alongside the hugely talented Conor Mahoney and match winner Jed Wallace supplying the ammunition, Harris’s ‘new-look’ frontline looked a more dynamic threat than last season.

A sentiment Smith hopes they can take into the season.

“First day season nerves are normal, that is part of being human.

“The Preston performance settles them and provides a benchmark of what we are capable of.

“It will give the lads that good bit of belief and confidence that you need to kick-start campaign.

“I thought to a man we were fantastic and the lads that came off the bench really made an impact as well and really showed that mental spirit and determination that you need to in this league because it's a really difficult division.”