Millwall defender highlights issue with referees this season as he makes penalty claim

JAKE Cooper said he would have had three penalties this season had VAR been in place in the Championship – and called on referees to "take responsibility" with set-piece decisions in Millwall games.

Cooper was bundled over in the Hull penalty area after a Lions corner in the first half of the 1-1 draw on Saturday, and Lions boss Neil Harris said afterwards opposition players are committing fouls on his side at set-plays but nothing it being done.

"One hundred per cent I had a penalty in the first half, if that happens anywhere else on the pitch that's a foul," Cooper said.

"I've had it a couple of times here this season. You're not going to get them all, as you've seen in English football refs are reluctant to give decisions like that.

"We're having conversations with refs all the time that they're fouling, there's not much more we can do, they have to take responsibility and look at our games and how people are fouling us all the time.

"We got a penalty in the first half and maybe that made the ref not want to give us another one. That's kind of how it goes sometimes.

"[Set-pieces] are massive for us, that's why teams are doing everything they can to stop us. They'll do anything and if refs don't see it there's not a lot we can do. We have to put ourselves there and show the ref that we're being fouled."

Millwall players were flagging the issue with referee Oliver Langford at the weekend.

"He just said there was another one in our box," Cooper said when asked what the referee's response had been. "I certainly don't foul because I don't touch the man I'm marking. I don't know if someone else has done something, but he was trying to compare our defending to their defending corners.

"I don't think there were any similarities but that was his view.

"I think I would have had three penalties already this season if there was VAR in this league. Unfortunately the funding isn't there to have it in this league so we have to make best use of what we can and give refs the best opportunities to give penalties."

Jed Wallace gave Millwall the lead on Saturday before Kamil Grosicki equalised with a 40-yard free-kick that went over Bart Bialkowski.

Cooper continued: "I think we dominated most parts of the game. I think their goal took us a bit by surprise. We didn't react well to that towards the end of the first half but we picked ourselves up in the second half and we deserved to get a second goal, I believe, but maybe the attacking threat wasn't there and we didn't get the chances that we should have done.

Jed Wallace scored from the penalty spot against Hull

"Lenny [Ryan Leonard] has a great chance to score and maybe that changes the game. We're a bit disappointed the way we reacted to the goal and that's something we'll have to look at.

"It was almost like the shock of it. We'd been very defensively solid here and we maybe thought once we'd scored we could take the game away from them. For them to get a goal like that it knocked us a bit as a team. It took us a bit of time to get back in the game which we have to look at and make sure it doesn't happen again.

"I certainly didn't expect him to try to shoot from there. If he has [meant it] he's pulled off a worldie so fair play to him. If he hasn't it's just unfortunate for us and I'm sure Bart wasn't expecting him to put it in the top corner either."

Millwall have two weeks during the international break before the trip to Blackburn. The Lions are 12th in the table, having lost just once in the opening six games.

"We were saying it in there, let's not get carried away with what we've done and who we are," Cooper said. "Maybe the last two games we could have got wins but we are who we are.

"One defeat in six games is a credit to us, we've started really well and it's something that we'll look to keep moving forward after this international break.

"We'll have some time to work on things. We'll certainly come back full of confidence after the start to the season.

"We've a great spirit, in the changing room and in training. Lads have come in and really boosted that. There's a great feel around the place, we're getting on well and there's a great vibe in the group.

"That's something that's really helped us up until now. We're looking to get even tighter and hopefully we can push on even more."

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly