If Gary Rowett isolating at home last week ahead of a home game against Barnsley was bad, having the rest of the coaching staff then isolate before a trip to Preston must’ve been worst case scenario at Calmont Road on Tuesday morning.
Step forward club captain Alex Pearce, and the ever present and now player-coach Shaun Williams. Two leaders amongst men, the pair then return home on Wednesday night from Deepdale, Preston with three points, clean sheet, and a great team performance too.
Having now picked up three wins in four since the international break, with the other result being a draw against bogey side Barnsley, the form guide is beginning to read pretty for The Lions.
Albeit the team was picked by Rowett and setup to exactly what the manager feel would provide the best chance of winning, credit cannot be taken away from the pair. With the odds stacked firmly against Millwall on Wednesday night, for the players on the pitch to provide a 10/10 performance such as that, highlights the respect and trust they have in Pearce and Williams.
From minute one the game was there for the taking, with Preston below par and manager Alex Neil full of excuses post match. However, we still needed to do enough to win and in the second half, thanks to a real moment of quality from Mason Bennett, who teed up Jed Wallace to square the ball to full debutant Kenneth Zohore. We got the crucial breakthrough to grab a firm grip on the tie.
Zohore later went off the field with by the looks of it was either a shin or calf related injury, having got his first start of the season and a goal to go with it, I hope that isn’t a lengthy lay-off for the loanee. In glimpses I felt like we saw what the forward has to offer our side, not only was he a vocal point for the team to aim for when under the pressure at the back, he seems a willing runner and has the ability to turn defences and have them running back towards goal.
The first half wasn’t for the purists, we were on top with chances but the killer end ball seemed to be missing. Especially with Mahlon Romeo, who seemed to get into acres of space throughout the first half, and yet was doing his best to ensure anything but a good ball was delivered into the box for Zohore to get on the end of.
Preston rarely troubled us with only one noteworthy contribution required from Bart in goal, rushing out to his right of the goal and closing the angle to prevent a real Preston effort on goal. Highlighting his real quality, on a quiet night for the goalie he was still on his toes to make sure his sheet was still clean.
The second goal of the night for Millwall came from a corner, with defender Muarry Wallace getting caught with a late attempt to clear the ball from Preston, going down to earn our other Wallace, Jed the chance to get his fourth of the season. Jed delivered, as we come to expect from the forward when 12-yards out, sealing the three points for Pearce and Williams.
The celebrations at the end highlights all I’ve said above, the players went out there and did the business for their team mates and leaders of the dressing room. With Huddersfield next at home, albeit with a long journey home after that win to get over, I’d back us to do the business once more on Saturday.
I’m sure Rowett won’t be disappointed with his sides efforts whilst working from home in the last two…