Missed chances underline the challenge that Millwall face to make Championship top six

Millwall manager Gary Rowett reckons the big chances his side missed in today’s 1-1 draw with Cardiff City sums up the challenge they are facing to reach the Championship play-offs.

Matt Smith headed the Lions ahead from Shaun Williams cross in the first half with Kieffer Moore levelling 11 minutes from the end of normal time.

But Millwall could not get two excellent second-half chances on target as Ben Thompson headed Jed Wallace’s cross over with Jon Dadi Bodvarsson shooting wide of the left upright when Ryan Woods’ pass put him through on goal.

Rowett said: “I watched the Bournemouth-Reading game earlier – there were 11 chances on goal and all 11 hit the target. That shows the quality of some of the individuals at those clubs.

“It was a difficult game, it always was going to be. Two physical sides. It was hard for either to get a grip of the game and create open chances.

“To go 1-0 up – a great ball from Willo for Smudge to head. I felt there might be opportunities to change it at half time but because we went 1-0 up I felt it was worth leaving and seeing how we fared.

“Second half it wasn’t as good a performance as I’d have liked but we worked incredibly hard. Just before their goal we have an opportunity with Thommo. It’s a chance we should take – it’s a really easy chance. To go 2-0 up at that stage would’ve killed the game off.

“We’ve then looked at our most comfortable just before the game and that we’d see the game out. We make a poor mistake – Scotty [Malone] tries to play a crossfield pass, I don’t know if he has a shout, and it opens the game up. We’re still two-v-one against Moore – we should deal with it. Coops [Jake Cooper] should react a little bit quicker. It gets a deflection which just sends Bart [Bialkowski] the wrong way.

“That gave Cardiff a lift for about five minutes. They had us on the rack to go and score the next one, we had to make a couple of blocks or saves.

“Then we have another glorious chance to win the game. It probably sums up a little where we are. We’re competing in every game and created some moments but we can’t find that little bit of quality that the teams above us have all got.

Rowett described Thompson’s performance as “bright”.

The Lions midfielder made his third Championship start of the season as he played in an advanced central role just behind Smith.

Rowett said: “It’s not necessarily a criticism of Thommo missing a chance. He’s had another one where he’s turned and whipped it just wide. I think that’s his position – as a 10.

“We’ve been playing 5-2-3 but we’ve not been able to win enough games at home and we’ve drawn a lot. We just felt we’d take an opportunity to flip to 4-2-3-1 and give us another body further forward.

“He was bright Thommo, in some of the spells. It probably shows that he hasn’t played as much and 65-70 minutes you knew you’d have to take him off.

“He had some good moments. You knew he’d give you everything. That’s us – we’re a really honest team. We’re a team that competes every game. What is really going to define where we finish is can we find those little bits of quality that turn some of those hard-working performances into winning performances.

“We’d rather be aspirational than be quite happy where we are, looking underneath and seeing how close we are to the teams below us. We’re not doing that. We want to hang on to where we are, hopefully get some attacking options back and get to January when we can hopefully bring some attacking reinforcements in.”

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