Jed Wallace has praised the work-rate and discipline of the Millwall team after securing three points on the road against Derby County on Wednesday evening.
Wallace hit the solitary winner in the 72nd minute at Pride Park to move The Lions five points clear of the Sky Bet Championship drop zone with a game in hand on the majority of surrounding clubs. The result also represents the side’s fourth clean sheet in five games.
“We defended unbelievably well, and the boys put an unbelievable shift in – they didn’t really have too many opportunities, so I think we deserved it in the end,” Wallace says.
“We knew it was going to be a hard game, Derby are a very possession-based team which you get a lot of in the Championship now. We had three in midfield and matched them, which is something we’ve done a lot recently.”
After scoring his fifth League goal of the season, Wallace heaped praise on the way the team defended throughout the 90 minutes, and in recent games with just one goal conceded in five.
“Definitely, I think [we’ve improved defensively]. Earlier this season we were scoring plenty but letting a lot in, which isn’t at all Millwall-like under this manager. We’ve worked tirelessly on the training pitch, and it also helps that Hutch and Coops have really come into form – they’ve been outstanding and set the tone.
“With Gregs up front he’s been working so hard, especially on his own, and it was a bit of a different role for me in the game to help. It’s here that I realise what Gregs does do for the team from the front.
“It was a great performance and a thoroughly deserved win. We’ve thrown away a lot of points this year so it was important they we held onto the lead, and hopefully now we can push on.”
Used predominantly out wide this season, Wallace played a central role in behind Lee Gregory at Pride Park and reflects on his winning strike, along with the “mental strength” shown by the team to get over the line.
“From the position I was in, I knew that I could use my legs which is probably my biggest attribute. It was a similar goal to the one I scored at Middlesbrough really, in that it was a counter-attacking goal. It’s great again from Gregs who holds it up and from Fergie who finds me really well – we all know about the quality on his left foot.
“I’m just really happy, although it was agonising to watch from the bench at the end! We’ve been in a similar position this year so many times, and the boys showed the mental strength to hold on and get the win. You can feel it in the dressing room now, it’s a massive result for us. The travelling fans were brilliant tonight, and it was great to reward them. Hopefully we can get plenty through the door on Saturday.”
Wallace highlights the importance of continuing momentum and assurance ahead of Saturday’s contest with Preston North End at The Den, with a busy schedule moving forward for The Lions.
“It needs to be a confidence and momentum boost. I’ve always maintained that the Millwall fans have got a dressing room which cares about the football club – when we’ve thrown away points this year, the boys have been devastated. And that’s not a case of being upset for 10 minutes, it’s been a case of it being dull for two or three days because we’ve been so disappointed as it’s been so nearly a good season for us.
“But after the number of games we’ve played, you deserve to be where you are for a reason. We’ve been unprofessional at times this year, but here at Derby we were exactly the opposite. We managed the game really well, had massive leadership from a lot of players with everyone pulling together, and the players from the bench making an impact. That’s what we need to push up the table, and hopefully now we will do that.”