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Rowett on fight, end product and physical demands after Forest draw

Manager reflective after entertaining spectacle at The Den

6 December 2019

Gary Rowett has commended his Millwall side's fight to claw back to a 2-2 draw against Nottingham Forest at The Den on Friday night, whilst acknowledging certain drawbacks which must be learnt from moving forward.

Shaun Williams headed his second in two games on his 250th Lions appearance, from Jed Wallace's corner to put The Lions in front, before Forest substitute Lewis Grabban notched a brace against his former club to turn the game on its head.

Aiden O'Brien then tucked away a loose ball from Williams' initial shot two minutes into second-half injury time to give Rowett's side a share of the spoils in the Sky Bet Championship contest.

"The players fought like they always do, we showed drive and desire and proved no game is dead - and that's an admirable quality," the manager says.

"I thought we played really well in the first half - we got the ball into wide areas, but what was probably our downfall was that we needed a bit more craft in the final third and had a poor end product. We scored from the one good delivery we put in tonight, so we thoroughly deserved to be 1-0 up. The disappointment is that we weren't further in front after being so superior all half.

"In the second half, I think we made a few poor decisions in possession, and Forest are a good side. They ended up countering us, and with the players they have you can't give them space. We should defend the back post better for the first goal, and we allowed Grabban to react quickest to score. But we kept going, we kept trying, and we had the energy to get back up the pitch. We changed formation again to allow us to move forward, but we concede a stupid goal on the counter to go behind - I thought it was offside, but it is what it is. Willo is really affecting games lately and it's a great strike from him parried out to Aiden, who has probably been the best trainer in the last couple of weeks. He has showed that with the right attitude you can come on and impact the game."

The boss analyses the threat provoked by Sabri Lamouchi's promotion-chasing Forest outfit, sums up The Lions' overall display and gives encouraging words about Wallace's impact.

"We didn't anticipate that Forest would start with a back five in the first place. But regardless, they have good players. When you're able to bring on the likes of Grabban and Joe Lolley - players that can really affect the game in an energetic way - you can see how clear that is.

"Our structure was good again, we created some really good opportunities and get in some brilliant areas, and we just need that final little bit of quality at times.

"Jed's quality is undeniable. Of course he knows he shouldn't overplay in the area that he did for their second goal, but occasionally players make the wrong decisions and if we look at Jed's performance tonight, in the first half that was as good as any display I've seen from a player in the Championship. We'll support him and keep trying to encourage him to do the right things."

In a vigorous December, Rowett spoke prior to Friday's draw with updates of his squad's bill of fitness, and now claims that he has no qualms with the team's results with regards to the demands on the players.

"I always felt as though the run of games we're in the middle of was going to be a big ask for a squad which is quite stretched.

"So I'm not overly disappointed with two draws and in many ways two good performances in our most recent games; what we've got to do now is summon that energy to go again, because we need to be ready on Tuesday. What does work in our favour is an extra day on most of the other teams as we played on a Friday night.

"What we need to do is carry on from our last two away performances, and put in a real display at Bristol City in midweek."

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