Jake Cooper has expressed his delight after Millwall’s 2-1 win at Bristol City in the Sky Bet Championship on Tuesday night, as he netted his first goal of the season to help see out the victory.
The defender says the team are relieved to have secured the three points after a late City onslaught, but claims the most obvious improvement to make is for the side not to invite pressure late in games.
“Relief is the main emotion from the boys at the end, the boys dug in and showed real quality to gain the lead and then defend it,” Cooper said to millwallfc.co.uk.
“We didn’t want to sit as deep as we did so there are still things to work on, and we’ll look at being able to control games in those situations. If there was a disappointment from the game, that was it that we made it hard for ourselves, but we’re really pleased with the three points here – Bristol City is a tough place to come, and we’ve come away with a deserved win.”
“We always back ourselves, we’re confident against anyone of picking up a result. A couple of years back, we were successful in defending physically against sides, and it’s nice to come away from this game having been solid – it’s a real plus for us. We don’t want to be put in those positions like after they scored, so the main improvement now is to control those spells under pressure better than we did.”
The three points at Ashton Gate means Gary Rowett’s men are now unbeaten in six League contests, and Cooper is eager to continue picking up the many points available over the festive period.
“We’re unbeaten in six now, so it’s credit to the group we’ve got here that we can do that.
“We’ll be looking ahead now to the game at Derby, and Barnsley after that back at The Den, and looking to wrap up more points over the Christmas period. It’s a crucial time for us to be earning points and moving up the table, carrying on our momentum.”
Cooper scored seven goals in all competitions last season, and on Tuesday headed what turned out to be the decider – his first since last season’s last-gasp equaliser at Sheffield United in April.
The towering centre-half explains the feeling as a “weight off [his] shoulders”, and adds that he is enjoying being a crucial cog in the machine of his manager’s new five-at-the-back system, popular in recent away matches.
“It’s a massive relief to be back scoring – I think you could see that from my celebration.
“I know it’s been a while since my last goal, so it’s a huge weight off my shoulders. I’m really happy to be back on the scoresheet, and hopefully I can kick on now and add more goals for the rest of the season.
“The new system is maybe a case of learning on the job, but I think we’ve done well when we played in that formation, with two wins at Swansea and Bristol City. We enjoy it as players, and it’s a real positive for us having something different to look towards when we play away from home. Hopefully it’ll be successful for us moving forward.”