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Rowett discusses point in Wigan draw

The boss shares his thoughts after playing out a 2-2 scoreline with The Latics at The Den

26 November 2019

Gary Rowett has given an elaborate analysis of Millwall's 2-2 draw at The Den with Wigan Athletic on Tuesday night, claiming the evening was tough but that his side showed character to recover for a point.

Anthony Pilkington and Antonee Robinson twice gave The Latics the lead in SE16, with Shaun Hutchinson and substitute Matt Smith heading home to give The Lions a share of the spoils.

The result puts Rowett's men in 11th in the Sky Bet Championship.

"We couldn't break Wigan down tonight - to be honest, I thought it was going to be a difficult game coming off the back of the high of the weekend," the manager says.

"After the energy, the quality and the journey back after Swansea, I just felt as if tonight would be tough. We have to give credit to Wigan, they're fighting for their lives, and they were far more aggressive than us early on. They won more second balls, played very directly and did it well, and it's something we struggled to deal with.

"After three minutes, one diagonal ball gets headed down and we were too slow to react. A fantastic finish, yes, but a goal that could've been avoided. After that, we picked things up but played slightly laboured at times. When we got the ball over to the right, we looked dangerous - but it's something we didn't do enough, and my main disappointment was just not showing quite enough intensity."

The boss commends the team's character to earn the point, and credits the impact of Smith after he headed his fifth of the season in the second half.

"Looking positively, at least we showed the character to once again come back from two difficult positions and get something out of the game.

"Whilst I wouldn't necessarily call it a point gained, it's a game we haven't lost. We showed the mentality not to do that. We can all understand at times that we're not going to be able to play with that intensity in every single game, but we have to stick at it when it isn't quite working.

"We had to huff and puff and work hard. We maybe overplayed in the first half and that's why I made the change at half-time to bring Smudge on, to give us that opportunity to bypass as well as play. Smudge has come on and had another effect, and that's what he's so good at - being able to change the game for us. He had a lot to do, it was a great cross from Willo, and a really good finish."

Rowett discusses the conclusion to the contest, in which The Lions stormed into a dominant phase of play but were just unable to break down Wigan's sturdy defensive setup.

"In the last 15 minutes, you saw that they just sat in and were happy to try and counter if they could.

"It's quite ironic that Bart came into the dressing room and apologised about their second goal, but I told him he has nothing to apologise about - he's probably won us more points this season than anybody and has been fantastic for us so far.

"It became clear that it wasn't quite going to be our night, but we stuck at it and got a point."

Finally, Rowett talks about the injury status of Shane Ferguson and Ryan Leonard - two players he is eager to welcome back to his squad with limited cover at his disposal.

"We're hoping for good news about Fergie, but there could be some damage to the cartilage. The prognosis really is to see how it settles down, give it a go and see if we can manage it. If we can't manage it, he might have to have an operation, but our focus at the moment is to help him recover and try and get him out on the training pitch.

"Ryan Leonard isn't far away from joining in training again, he could be in line for early next week to be back on the training pitch. It's positive, as we've been very light lately, certainly defensively in terms of cover. Murray Wallace and Jayson Molumby were on four yellow cards before today's game, and we don't have too much cover in those areas.

"Overall on tonight, though, it's a positive performance and in five games, we've picked up three wins; one draw and one defeat - I'm not overly disappointed with that."

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