ALEX Pearce says Dave Martin is a “strong leader” and will “bounce back” after the goalkeeper’s error gifted Brighton an equaliser in their FA Cup quarter-final at The Den on Sunday.
Martin palmed in Solly March’s free-kick in the fifth minute of added-time at the end of normal time before the Seagulls won 5-4 on penalties to reach the last four.
It was only Martin’s sixth appearance for Millwall in two seasons, after he had kept a clean sheet at Brimingham last week on his second league start for the club.
“He is okay, honestly,” Pearce said when asked about the stopper after the game. “Dave has been great since he has come into the team, he showed a great mentality on Wednesday night when he got put back in after a long while out of the team. He came in and kept a clean sheet, he was talking all game and he was the same today.
“But obviously as a keeper, those type of things can happen. He will bounce back from that. He will bounce back from that as he is a strong character, a strong leader in our dressing room. Come Leeds away he will be back.
“I went up to him and said don't feel bad about it. It happens. That is the life of a goalkeeper, that's the life of any player, really. We all make mistakes, it's a game of mistakes, but it's about how you react to it and how you respond now. That will be the key now.
“He is mentally strong enough for it, he has been around the game a long time, I think he is 33 years of age. It’s not a problem as far as I’m concerned. I’m sure he will be ready come the next league game, for sure. And he will be doing what he usually does.”
Millwall were seconds from the semi-final, before March’s fluke after Jurgen Locadia’s 88th-minute strike.
Lewis Dunk scored from the spot to make it 5-4 before Jake Cooper blasted over.
Pearce said: “I think we probably deserved to win, to be honest with you.
"I think even in extra-time when they brought it back, the momentum was with them, I thought we weathered it and I think the first half of extra-time Mahlon [Romeo] has had a chance and unfortunately for him he blazed it over the bar.
“I think as far as chances go in extra-time we were the better side. They might have had more of the possession, which is going to happen, they're a Premier League team. They are going to have more of the ball, you expect that.
“We kept our shape really well throughout the whole game. I think that was a feature of our play and I think we can be really proud of ourselves today and take the positives out of it.
“It was an unlucky way to lose in the end. Sometimes that happens in football.”
Gutted about what happened today and want to apologise to everyone at Millwall, the fans were superb as always and created an unbelievable atmosphere at The Den. I’m so sorry I let you down and I will come back stronger
— Dave Martin (@dmartin_gk) March 17, 2019
Image: Millwall FC