Millwall boss praises unlikely front partnership – and discusses displays of recalled boyhood Lions

MILLWALL boss Gary Rowett didn’t hold back on the praise for his players after the 1-0 win over Middlesbrough on Saturday – picking out an unlikely front pair and two homegrown starlets after their performances at The Den.

With Matt Smith and Kenneth Zohore out, Jed Wallace and Mason Bennett – who have played mostly in wide positions for Millwall – have been the front two recently.

Wallace got his 18th assist since the start of the 2019-20 season as Grant Hall scored an own goal to give the Lions three points.

Boyhood Millwall fans Danny McNamara and Billy Mitchell also returned to the side.

Millwall were 2-0 up at QPR last Wednesday but lost the game 3-2. They led Boro 1-0 at the break and Rowett revealed his half-time message at The Den against Neil Warnock’s team.

“I told them it’s a game of energy again, exactly the same as QPR,” Rowett said. “If we maintained the energy and did the right things and didn’t go too open and gung-ho and lose our shape then it would be a difficult game for them to get back into.

“We changed the formation after 10 or 15 minutes because I felt we had to attack more. It’s difficult when you’ve got players that are just hanging on in there and giving everything they’ve got.

“If you start to make the game too open then that suits their attacking players that they can bring on, the likes of [Nathaniel] Mendez-Laing, [Duncan] Watmore.

“For us it was about denying them space. We didn’t want that 15-, 20-minute period just defending our box, but sometimes you have to do that to win the game.

“Actually in the end we had another couple of moments when we could have nicked another goal and took the game away from Middlesbrough.”

Wallace and Mason Bennett led the line against Boro and again produced impressive displays.

Rowett added: “Excellent, they’ve been really, really good. You wouldn’t look at them and think they’re both strikers.

“But what they give us is great movement and the opportunity to play. They work really hard with Jed dropping into little spaces and Mason trying to stretch the game.

“For the chance they had it was the opposite, Mason drops deep and he has that vision to see Jed’s run. It was a wonderful ball and actually maybe Jed will feel he should have done better.

“There were some really good performances. Jed and Mason particularly because after Wednesday it was always going to be hard for them to go again.

“Danny Mac was excellent coming back into the team. Billy Mitchell was absolutely outstanding and there were many others and nice to get a win going into the international break.”

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly