15 January 2022

Steve Cooper believes Forest showcased promotion credentials with Millwall win

15 January 2022

Steve Cooper believes his players showcased their steely promotion credentials as Nottingham Forest escaped from the Den with a dramatic 1-0 win over Millwall

Lewis Grabban’s stoppage-time strike secured the points for the in-form visitors as Forest remained in firm touching distance of the Championship play-off places.

Millwall dominated the opening period but after spurning a string of chances, were punished at the death as hitman Grabban scored his 11th league goal of the season.

And Forest boss Cooper, whose ever-improving side lie just five points off the top six, said: “We knew coming into it this is one of the toughest places to come and play, and to get a result.

“I think we had over 20 shots in the second half and I’m glad one went in in the end.

“We didn’t start the game so well. It was becoming that game that we knew it might be, but we didn’t help ourselves if truth be told.

“On the half hour we started to settle, and half-time came at the wrong time when Yatesey (Ryan Yates) missed a really good chance.

“They created a couple of moments in the second half but on the basis of number of chances created, I thought we were worth it in the end.

“Lewis is finding the right places at the moment and we looked fit and strong in those last 20 minutes when we were never going to settle for a draw.

“We might have accepted it, but we were never going to settle for it.”

Millwall started the brighter in south London as Benik Afobe, Scott Malone and Danny McNamara all went close.

Aston Villa loanee Keinan Davis created Forest’s best opportunity as Cooper’s side clung on to go into the break level.

The visitors’ boss surely had a word or two to say at half-time as Grabban and Yates both almost broke the deadlock at the start of the second period.

Grabban looked to have fluffed his lines at the decisive moment when he missed an open goal two minutes from time – but the red-hot striker made amends by capitalising on good work from Philip Zinckernagel to fire the away side to victory.

The result leaves Millwall nine points off the play-off places in 11th.

Frustrated boss Gary Rowett said: “It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but that’s Championship football. The game becomes end-to-end, and you’ve got to take your chances.

“What you can’t do is make silly decisions. It’s just little moments we perhaps need to manage a bit better and whether that’s the individual player that’s doing it or other players around, it’s just saying ‘wait’.

“I appreciate we want to win the game but there has to be a relevant chance of winning in that moment – otherwise you see what happens.

“We started the first half in the ascendancy – we were the better team and had good chances early on and their keeper has made a couple of really good saves.

“I thought it was a good, entertaining game where both teams were trying to win. It’s a real disappointment because you work hard all season.

“We’ve played really well recently and it was another strong home performance, with lots of positives. But when you lose a game in the 92nd minute, it just feels like a bitter blow.”

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