Frustrated Millwall just about managed to snatch a draw to atone for their admirable efforts against fourth-placed Nottingham Forest at The Den – but Gary Rowett is far from downcast.
The Lions’ boss admitted his team were “brilliant” in the first half of the 2-2 draw and was almost resigned to losing, after Forest substitute Lewis Grabban netted twice to put the visitors ahead late on after Shaun William’s early opener.
Yet Aiden O’Brien slammed home a dramatic injury time equaliser in a performance that, apart from the lack of incision at times, showed Millwall can move forward in the Championship, with the help of a little consistency.
It was, at times, end-to-end stuff in an enthralling second half in south London, and O’Brien was on hand to ensure it wasn’t just about Grabban stealing the headlines on his return to a former club.
With Forest looking anything but promotion candidates in the first half, it seemed Rowett’s men would go on to take the three points without too much difficulty. Yet this failed to factor in Grabban’s nose for goal.
Millwall now have a couple of difficult games on the road coming up, against Bristol City and Derby County. Rowett remains understandably keen on what he is building at The Den.
He said: “At 2-1, I sat down and though it was over but the players fought to the end and showed brilliant courage.
“We had a really good first half and Forest went physically to combat us and kept their best players on the bench and you saw they impact they had.
“I thought the first half we were great, but it just that last little bit and sometimes we lack that tiny bit of quality. But we don’t have that kind of top class in those areas. We were unusually wasteful at times and disappointed to only be 1-0 up in first half. You know they’ll have a good spell at some point and they showed their quality.
In terms of progress at Millwall since taking over in October, Rowett is as upbeat as ever.
“I think myself and the lads have thoroughly enjoyed it so far, it’s been a breath of fresh air,” he added. “I’ve enjoyed every minute - the club is fantastically well run and the players have done everything to improve. We are the sort of team who have to work incredibly hard for everything we get.
“I think we’re short in one or two areas but I’m not here to think there are vast amounts to spend. Being ambitious means just trying to win every game. We’ve got two away games next and we always knew this was a really tough run of games.”
Forest manager Sabir Lamouchi, meanwhile, said the draw was a fair outcome and praised Millwall’s performance levels.
“A draw was logical for the two teams,” he noted. “Millwall played well and they scored an easy goal in the first half and I can’t accept that. Millwall have good energy and are a good team.
“In the second half we were totally different and showed more quality. He (Grabban) plays all the time but we have a lot of games to play but Grabban is Grabban and he made the difference. He’s a striker a, killer who scored two goals with two chances.”