BEN Thompson admitted the feeling at Millwall was “a bit down” before their trip to Birmingham on Wednesday – but said they would now go to Leeds with “massive confidence” after their 2-0 win.
Thompson’s first-half double, his second and third goals since his January return from his loan spell at Portsmouth, gave the Lions a deserved win at St Andrew’s.
Thompson – who said he hadn’t scored two goals in a game since Sunday League football – is cup-tied for the FA Cup quarter-final against Brighton this Sunday, but will be watching from the stands.
The Lions ended a run of four straight losses with victory against Garry Monk’s side, after their dispiriting defeat at Bolton last weekend.
“It’s massive. The boys came off a couple of bad results and we were not in a good place in the table,” Thompson said. “It wasn’t its usual self. I go in the changing room and everyone’s joking, having a laugh, but it wasn’t as much like that before this game.
“It’s not nice when it’s like that. We know what a tough position we’re in and we’ve got to stick together. We’re all in the same boat, we need that team camaraderie and bond we have going into every game.
“We’ve got to keep the faith, keep believing we can go and win games like we have tonight. The manager has been relaying that message, telling us how good we are and how good we can be when we want to be, playing like a good Millwall team. That’s when we are at our best.
“The mood’s been a bit down but after that the spirit is high again and we’ll go into the next game with massive confidence.
“It’s nice to get two goals, it’s the first time I’ve done it in a game, it’s a great feeling. We need to get more and more away from the relegation zone.
“There was a lot of pressure on us at Bolton, everyone expected us to go there and get a result. It doesn’t work like that in the Championship, everyone can beat everyone. It’s a tough league.
“It was a bad result, we knew that, but we came here and made it better, if you want to call it that. We did well here and got the three points we needed.”
Thompson’s Brum brace came off two assists from Lee Gregory.
He said: “We all know how good a player Greggs is. I know every time he gets the ball he’s going to do something with it and put me in or create a chance for himself. He’s just so sharp around the box and clever with his play.
“It’s a pleasure to play with him.
“I think it was important we didn’t sit back. Sometimes when we go ahead in games we sit back and try to hold on to the lead. I feel like we did that a bit towards the end but that was always going to happen.”
Millwall played another different formation on Wednesday, a 4-1-4-1 with Ryan Leonard anchoring midfield and Thompson and Ryan Tunnicliffe ahead of him.
Thompson was full of praise for both players.
“I thought [Leonard] was outstanding,” Thompson said. “He was a rock in front of the defence and shored everything up. He gave me the licence to go forward and get the goals.
“[Tunnicliffe’s] got legs, he’s fast, gets in the right positions and nicks the ball off the opposition for us. It’s a great help and I thought he played well as well.
“We’ve played games in the last few months with the 4-3-3 formation. It works. Obviously there are certain games it can work in and certain games it can’t. It’s all about what happens with the opposition, what they do and how they’re going to play.
“There are a lot of tough fixtures left, the games we’ve got coming up are massive. We’ve just got to go to these away games with belief because, at the end of the day, everyone can beat everyone in the Championship.”
Millwall’s players and staff formed a huddle after their crucial win at St Andrew’s.
Thompson explained: “That’s the team spirit we have. We’ve got a great set of lads, the boys in there are phenomenal. We just talked about sticking together for the last nine games. Steve Morison had a little speech and made sure the boys are in it together and we go out there and give it everything.”
Thompson, a boyhood Lion, will be back to being a fan on Sunday.
He added: “I’ll be in the stands watching. I’ve got to make sure I’m there supporting the boys. I can’t wait to give it some from the stand!
“Obviously you want to play but I took a bit of a knock tonight so it’ll be nice to have a rest. You want to play every game possible, I want to play every minute of every game, that’s just me, that’s my hunger.
“It’s unfortunate that I’m cup-tied but the boys will go out there and do a job and then we focus on Leeds.
“We’ll be working on all sorts [during the international break], shape, formation, working on the basics, everything we are as a Millwall team and everything we need to go forward. We’ll be working hard, it’s not a time for rest.
“We’ll be ready for Leeds.”
Image: Millwall FC