‘Instinctive football’ paying off for Millwall striker as he also discusses prospect of signing contract extension

Tom Bradshaw reckons one of the reasons the goals are starting to flow is down to him no longer fixating on his own game.

The Millwall striker’s close-range finish at Peterborough United last weekend saw him score in three successive Championship matches for the first time since December 2019.

And Bradshaw is on five for the campaign. all of those coming in the last seven games, moving him one ahead of his total tally for last season.

“If I look back at my career the best football I’ve played is when I’ve just played instinctive football,” the 29-year-old told the South London Press. “I’ve had spells where I’ve over-thought my game and that’s not really beneficial for me.

“I’m really enjoying it now. I’m playing regular football and I feel like you make your own luck. Things are starting to turn for me whereas before they were hitting the post or ruled out for offside when I felt I was onside.

“But if I keep getting in those positions then I back myself to score goals. The only thing I’d say is that the goals are really soured if we don’t get a good result as a team. From that aspect Saturday was disappointing.

“The good thing is that scoring goals gives you that self belief. I’ve had several chats with the gaffer and he has said I almost work too hard, that I’m too unselfish in my defensive work for the team. I’ve tried to concentrate more on getting into areas I’m going to be a threat, instinctively finding the positions where I’ve previously had success.”

Bradshaw was in the right place at the right time on Saturday to produce a first-time strike on Jed Wallace’s cross.

Only an excellent stop by Posh keeper David Cornell then denied the Shrewsbury-born frontman, capped three times by Wales, an equaliser.

“I used to play with Dave for Wales U21s – it was a brilliant save,” said Bradshaw.

“I struck it well and there was also a bit of a deflection off a defender’s foot which made it kind of loop up. It was one where as soon as I hit it I thought ‘that’s a goal’. You are almost taken by surprise when the keeper stops it.

“It would have been great to get us a point but it is swings and roundabouts, I’m sure one will bobble off my knee and go in.

“The one I did get was a fairly simple finish in the end.

“It was a good ball by Scottie [Malone] and Jed’s first touch sets him down the left wing. I knew if he got a yard he’d put the ball across. We’d said all through the week that in that formation with me and Benik [Afobe] up top and Jed just behind that there has got to be a striker in the box.”

Bradshaw is heading towards the final six months of his Den deal, but Millwall manager Gary Rowett wants to extend his stay.

It was the end of last December that the Lions triggered a clause in his contract kicking in another 12 months.
Bradshaw and his family are settled in the Beckenham area.

“We’ve got a solid base down here,” he said. “I really love being at Millwall – that’s down to the players, staff and fans.

“It [a new contract] is definitely something I’m interested in and we’re talking about.

“Nothing is set in stone, I know how quickly football moves. But hopefully it will progress very soon.

“I was in a similar boat last season. Technically I was in my last year but the option was in the club’s favour and they decided to take it up.

“When you’ve been in football for a long time these kind of situations are part and parcel of it. You don’t want to put too much pressure on yourself by thinking ‘you’ve only got six months on your deal- you have to score x amount of goals or be playing this well’. The more I relax than the more I enjoy my football and tend to score.

“I’ve tried to take that approach this season and so far it has paid dividends.

“This is my fourth season here and it’s the longest I’ve been at a club since Shrewsbury, I was there from 17 until about 21.”
Bradshaw needs three more goals to hit a century in his career. He bagged a brace on his debut for the Shrews – a 3-0 win at Crewe – in April 2010 to get the ball rolling.

“I’ve got no plans to stop any time soon,” he said. “Most strikers know their stats. If you named me a goal in my whole career then I’d probably be able to describe it to you.

“If you score a goal it is a special moment that sticks with you. It is a feeling you never get tired of and are hungry to do again.”
Millwall have had fluctuating levels of performance in recent weeks, following impressive showings against Bournemouth and Birmingham with below-par displays at Hull and Peterborough.

“You’d look at the league table, see Peterborough are down in the relegation zone and say: ‘We’ve got to be beating them’,” said Bradshaw. “But there are no easy games in the Championship.

“It was frustrating after being so good against Birmingham to then not be so great at Peterborough. It’s something we don’t take light-heartedly – we take it just as tough as the fans. We’re just as disappointed with every bad result we get.

“We want to win every game we’re involved in, whether that’s against the top of the league or bottom of it.

“All we can do is try and put it right in the next game.”

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