MILLWALL boss Gary Rowett joked he didn’t foresee the instant impact his introduction of Matt Smith would have in the 1-1 draw against Bournemouth on Tuesday night.
Dominic Solanke gave the Cherries the lead in first-half added-time, before Smith scored with his first touch in the 79th minute to earn the Lions a point.
It was Smith’s fourth goal of the season, from Jake Cooper’s flick, seconds after he had come on for Alex Pearce, as part of a triple change that included Mason Bennett and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson.
Rowett felt his side deserved at least a point.
He said: “I think so. We knew it was going to be a difficult game. You’re coming to, in my opinion, a Premier League-quality team. They move the ball so well and so incisively.
“The likes of [David] Brooks and [Lewis] Cook, they find little pockets, Solanke has pace and penetration up front. They’re a really difficult side to play against.
“But I felt we got our shape really spot-on. We felt as though we couldn’t press too high, open that shape up, but we thought if our transitions had enough quality in them we would get into some really good positions.
“In some ways we got into more positions and better positions than I felt we would.
“Coming to a place like this, if you’re looking at control of possession then Bournemouth dominated the game.
“But it’s not just about that.
“I think we controlled Bournemouth out of possession and we’ve had double and a little bit more chances on goal. For an away team that’s particularly encouraging.
“Particularly after conceding the goal we did. We had a one-v-one before that, we had a header cleared off the line. We had numerous opportunities but then they score before half-time and it’s our mistake.
“First half that was the difference, Solanke given one chance and he takes it. That’s what you’re up against in a quality team.
“I felt we then couldn’t open up too early second half, not stay in the game but just be patient. Then I felt it was the right time to change it. I didn’t think the substitution would work as well as it did – I’m not going to stand here and profess to be a genius!
“But I think it was a first touch, Smudge goes on and causes them problems and then for about five minutes I thought they were uncomfortable.
“They were uncomfortable just before they scored for about 10 minutes, and then they were uncomfortable just after we scored. Maybe at that point we just didn’t have the energy to quite get after them, but nevertheless I think it was a really good performance.
“We hit the post also and we had other opportunities. I’m not going to say we should have definitely won the game because that would be a little bit remiss of me, but certainly if we had had a little bit more quality we would have scored more than one goal.”
Image: Millwall FC