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Nugent on "different" Alex challenge

The Under 23s boss on dominant display...

10 November 2020

Kevin Nugent couldn't quite believe what was unfolding in front of his eyes at Calmont Road on Tuesday afternoon - but praised his players for adapting to matters in the 1-0 Professional Development League win over Crewe Alexandra.

Dan Moss struck a 78th-minute winner against The Railwaymen, after The Lions had knocked on the door of a Crewe side intent on parking the bus and shutting up shop from the very first minute.

Should possession stats be available for Under 23s fixtures, then the blue line would have squashed the red one - something that Nugent echoed when discussing the afternoon's work.

"It was a totally different game to what we were expecting," Nugent told millwallfc.co.uk. "Different to what we were used to as well.

"If you're looking at the possession count in the game, you've got to be looking at 80-90%. We put loads of balls in the box, but probably didn't work their goalkeeper enough. It was tough to break them down, though. They set up to park the bus and stay in the game for as long as they could.

"In the end, we broke them down and had a couple of chances after that. I'm really pleased for the boys."

Having done everything except put the ball in the goal in the first-half, Nugent's half-time team talk was all about the small tweaks his side could make to find the back of the net.

"At half-time, I told them to improve on their final ball and its quality, plus to get more bodies in the box. Always, though, to make sure that they didn't get done with a sucker punch from a set-piece, or a mistake, and lose 1-0. "We had to keep going and keep thinking of different ways to use the ball."

The Under 23s boss has now returned to his post after an unexpected spell with the first-team - Nugent was drafted in alongside Shaun Williams and club captain Alex Pearce to guide the team through a spell without Gary Rowett and his coaching staff following a positive COVID-19 test.

"There isn't much difference between the Under 23s and the first-team in the fact that there are no crowds there, but there are big differences in terms of what is at stake. It's about team performances at first-team level, where as here, you are also looking at individual performances just as much.

"It was really enjoyable to work alongside Willo [Shaun Williams] and Pearcey [Alex Pearce], but it's good that the manager is now back, as well as the staff, and to get back to normality. Hopefully they can get themselves up the League."


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