26 August 2023

Gary Rowett pleased with Millwall’s resilient display during win against Stoke

26 August 2023

Gary Rowett hailed a determined Millwall performance after they ended a run of three straight defeats to beat Stoke 1-0.

Rowett labelled his team as “lacklustre” after their 3-1 loss to Norwich last week and has faced criticism from Lions fans following a poor start to the season.

But Kevin Nisbet’s excellent first-half finish was enough for a fifth win in six games against the Potters, who missed a host of second-half chances.

“I’m pleased for the players. I’m still the same manager as I was last week but a little bit happier,” Rowett said.

“I understand the fan criticism. When you pay your money you take your choice but I knew that our fans would get behind us if we put the relevant energy and aggression into the game. That’s what they want to see and that’s what I thought we gave them.

“Certainly, first half I thought we were very good. We played on the front foot, we played forward early, we supported quickly, played off those second balls. We caused Stoke quite a lot of problems, we scored the goal with a good finish to give us that slender lead.

“(Nesbit) just has that calmness around him when he’s in and around the box.

“Stoke made a good tactical change at half-time but we’ve dug in and had to be resilient.”

Millwall were the stronger team in the first half and found the breakthrough when Stoke failed to deal with a looping long throw from the right, bouncing kindly for Nesbit to find the bottom right corner.

Stoke came into the game after a quadruple substitution at half-time. Andre Vidigal went close with a one-on-one and forced a fine save from Matija Sarkic, while Tyrese Campbell hit a post and Wouter Burger had a late drive fizz wide.

Stoke dialled up the pressure as the heavens opened and Campbell had a shot blocked by Shaun Hutchinson before Mehdi Leris shot just over in a scramble.

Potters manager Alex Neil is adamant his team deserved at least a point after camping inside the Millwall half.

Stoke have signed 10 players this summer, including three in the past week, and Neil admits it will take for them to gel – but still wants to add more to his squad before the deadline.

“I’m not in the habit of taking four players off at any one time ever, but I felt as if I needed to impact the game in a positive manner,” he said.

“In the second half, we were excellent and deserved to get something from the match. I thought the chances we had second half, you could argue we should have won it really.

“I was concerned how quickly the new players will bed in, how quickly can they adapt, but on the evidence of the second half, I think the answer was there.

“So when you say ‘stutter’, the first half was disappointing, the result is disappointing but the second half there were hugely encouraging bits.

“We’ve still got to add, we know that, this was always going to be the case for us. The fact is we had won three games out of four this season so far, we’ve won three games out of five now. I think you can see that we’re a good side.”

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