Gary Rowett felt his Millwall side showed a lack of “bravery” in today’s 2-1 loss to Coventry City at The Den.
A late Jed Wallace penalty gave the Lions hope that they could collect only their second Championship home win of the season.
But Rowett was spot on with his post-match assessment – pointing out that the SE16 outfit could have lost by a heavier margin.
He said: “It was a poor performance. Certainly in the first half, to come in 2-0 down probably flattered us. Coventry were excellent and showed sometimes what it takes to get a result – they were prepared to work their socks off, close down, go and sprint and get in our face – make it difficult for us to get time on the ball.
“I didn’t think we did the same to them. We didn’t play with enough braveness around them. We went a little too predictable for the first 20-25 minutes. We were a yard off all over the place.
“The first goal was symbolic of that to a certain degree. We didn’t regain our defensive shape quickly enough, they break into an area we spoke about being something we needed to guard against with their formation. They get a bit of fortune – it hits the post and comes off [Jake] Cooper’s knee and goes in.
“The second one they go from the keeper and just play through and we stand off all over the pitch. There are about five or six times we can go and put on the pressure and we don’t. They play a one-two around us, end up getting a free-kick – it hits the wall and the second one goes off Jake Cooper’s backside and wrongfoots Bart.
“We’re 2-0 down, probably deservedly, but a little bit of misfortune as well.
“At half-time I felt I had to make a change because the performance was very, very poor. I changed to a formation we’ve played a lot – in a five – matched up Coventry and we were a lot better.
“Troy [Parrott] looked incredibly bright. We couldn’t bring on Ken [Zohore] too much earlier, just because of fitness issues. He made a bit of a difference.
“Was the performance better second half? Yeah. Was it still good enough? Probably not. They still had chances and could’ve made the game safe.
“What summed the game up was seeing O’Hare sprinting in the 94th minute to close Murray Wallace down – to do the right things – we end up giving a foul away. I didn’t think it warranted a second yellow card. I think it was ridiculous.
“I spoke to James [Linington, the referee] afterwards because you’ve got their goalkeeper – rightly so – taking an age with his goal kicks all game and suddenly he books Murray for a second time, which was unneccessary.
“But O’Hare had that little bit of hunger and desire to stop us playing forwards. And we didn’t show it often enough.
“I’ve said to the players in there that it was a performance with a lack of bravery about it. We didn’t get on the ball. We score a goal and after that we all start wanting the ball and running around. We look quite bright and have a little zip about us – but we have to do that at 0-0. It’s how you win games.
“I’m the manager and I take responsibility. The recent run has been very poor – the last 14-15 games have not been acceptable enough – at all.
“We’ve had a tough two weeks in some ways – eight players with Covid and four or five of them started today. Who knows what the effect of that is? But physically we looked a bit off it. We haven’t been able to train very much as a team because of the regulations. It makes it very difficult and we looked like a team physically off the pace.
“It certainly wasn’t the only factor. We deserved to lose by more goals.
“With no home fans, Covid included, that performance is not acceptable. What we’ve done is raise the bar for a vast part of the time we’ve been in but for the last 10, 12 games we’ve gone back to probably a similar position in the league and a similar level to when we came into the building. We need to up it, we need to bring some fresh blood in and keep the likes of Parrott and Zohore fit for as long as they are here for.
“Our standards and our drive have not been what they should be. It’s time to start doing something about it.
“It’s not the first time I’ve been in this position or had a run of form not where it should be. And it won’t be the first time we do something about it. The group have shown that we’re capable of more. That’s the frustration – we go away to Bristol and put in a performance that is absolutely desperate, like Coventry have done today, and win the game comfortably. In my opinion we’re then the better side against Forest and probably should’ve won the game. We look like we’ve got something to build on and then we go and put that type of performance in.”
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