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Rowett praises attacking intent as Lions overcome Robins

Manager discusses formation on the road, Cooper's first goal and creating chances

10 December 2019

Gary Rowett has lauded the way his Millwall side operated in their system going forward on Tuesday night, as The Lions earned their second away win with a 2-1 success against Bristol City at Ashton Gate.

Jed Wallace's early opener set the tone for a fantastic first-half display against Lee Johnson's Robins side, before Jake Cooper headed his first of the season to double the advantage.

Callum O'Dowda's consolation provoked an onslaught from the home side, which Rowett's side weathered to claim a vital three points.

"I thought we were outstanding, against a side like Bristol City with the home record they have and their position in the League table," the manager says.

"I have to say that in the first half we opened them up countless times and it was a bit like the Forest game where we couldn't believe we were only one up at the time. They had good control of possession at times, but the way we set up meant we didn't mind that. The higher they get, the more opportunities we get on those transitions, which we worked really well.

"That's twice now that we've played a 5-2-3, which is something we always felt could work away from home and be the solution for us. To win away at Swansea, be comfortable for much of the game here at Bristol City, it's fantastic. The only thing I've actually had a go at the lads for in there is the way we had to hang on in the last 10 minutes. Their goal changed everything really, and I just want us to know we can still go and press at two goals up. I know you naturally feel as if you're protecting something at that point, and I'd like to just see us use our ability more in those situations - play how we did in the first 45 minutes."

Rowett continues that his team showed great patience to calmly exploit the hosts - giving special acknowledgement to the players down his right flank - and claims further improvement is a case of composure and end product.

"We put our bodies on the line when we needed to. They're a bright side, they play with a lot of movement, whereas at Swansea we could press a little higher through our full-backs.

"So we had to be patient tonight. We had to almost sacrifice quite a bit of possession, and because of things we've worked on, we were able to get into some easy areas and exploit them with our movement at the top end of the pitch. That showed with the first goal - Mahlon and Jed work excellently down that right-hand side, and we were close to creating so much more too - it's just getting that final action spot on.

"They changed their shape which will always cause sides problems - they have players like Eliasson, who can still hurt you even if you double up on him. Diedhiou will also be one to cause problems up top. It's just a case of showing that bit of composure when we concede, work hard to get up the pitch and keep the ball and things are moving forward."

The boss finally praises Cooper's impact to net the winner and get off the mark for the season, and sums up the effectiveness of the new tactic on the road by pointing out how promotion-chasing City were forced to respond to a tremendous first half.

"Andi Weimann is a great player, who I know all about because I had him at Derby. But it showed with Bristol City moving him out wide from the number 10 position that they were struggling to deal with us out wide.

"The beauty of our five away from home sometimes is that it allows Mahlon to be higher, Jed to be freer, and in turn that means we can create even more chances - we've probably created more away from home of late than at The Den.

"I'm delighted for Coops, too. If you're 6'6' and can head the ball like he can, ideally you want to be scoring five or six goals a season. What I would say is this is more evidence of good set-piece work - it's a great way for us to score goals - and we've been really good at it. We have players who can score from all different areas."

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