By Jake Sanders
MATT Smith was thrilled to net Millwall's late winner against local rivals Charlton prior to the international break – but doesn't want become known as a 'super sub'.
The 30-year-old, who joined from Queens Park Rangers last summer, came off the bench with just four minutes remaining and netted in stoppage-time to ensure the Lions extended their impressive unbeaten run against their neighbours – with what was his first goal since September.
But Smith, who has played just 16 minutes in Gary Rowett's opening three minutes in charge, doesn't want it to become a regular occurrence.
"What is my biggest strength can ultimately be a hindrance to me personally, in that respect," Smith admitted. "The ability to impact games off the bench and I have proved that I can do that over the years, but it's not why I came to the club.
"I came to the club to play regular football and ultimately, I was doing that under the previous manager. What has happened has happened, it was a shock to everyone, but it's a new chapter at the club and I have got to stake my claim to play regular football. That starts by scoring goals and impacting the team."
And although Neil Harris' direct football might have suited Smith's old fashioned-style slightly more, he has been reassured by Rowett that chances will come his way.
He said: "We have spoken a couple of times since he has taken over. We have had honest chats and he said don't read too much into the opening three games, I am going to get my opportunity to play.
"I have been around the block enough to know what happens in these instances and ultimately, it's goals and performances that is going to keep you in the side.
"For a striker, that's the hardest thing on the pitch to do – scoring goals. So if I can do that for the team, then I know I'll be playing.
"I don't think he needs reminding of my capabilities. We have both been in the division for a long time. I have played against plenty of the manager's side and likewise he is well-versed of what I can bring to the team."
Smith has previously admitted that Harris was a major reason why he joined for Millwall after years of speculation linking him to The Den. So what's it like for a player when a new manager comes in and your starting place could suddenly become under threat?
"Generally speaking, it can be unsettling," Smith said. "The uncertainty of what a new manager can bring or how he can react to you or does he like you. It's a natural emotion of what all players have when a new manager comes in. But like I said, I am experienced enough to know what I can bring to a side and I'd like to think that managers can see that.
He added: "The manager has been a breathe of fresh air, training has had a real intensity to it, he has a superb track record in the division, so as far as an appointment goes, it has been a fantastic one and the results have been really positive.
"Bar the first-half at Reading, it has been a really positive start and the lads have taken on board everything he is getting across to us and hopefully we can carry that forward and stride to have a positive season and march up the table."
Despite not starting a match since Adam Barrett's final game in charge against Cardiff City, Smith admitted that the feel-good-factor has returned after two victories in three matches, following on from seven without a win before Harris' shock departure.
The former QPR striker said: "The previous manager had been here for a long period of time. It is rare in football, he was probably one of the longest serving managers in English football, so it's testament to him and his managerial capability.
"He probably felt like it was time for a new challenge and with that comes a new lease of life. So it's positive we have capatalised on that and got two really good wins and hopefully we can take some wins on the road and really march up the table."
Three points at Swansea City on Saturday could see Millwall climb into the top-half of the Championship standings for the first time since September. And Smith know exactly what must be done to avoid the season "fizzling out".
"I think looking over the season so far, we have had our ups and downs," said Smith. "The home form has been top-two material, whilst the away form has been relegation material.
"So it's a tale of two sides really and how we react and how we improve our away form is what is going to ultimately galvanise our season. If the results don't pick up away then the campaign could fizzle out, so it's a case of really putting emphasis on the away form that has let us down.
"When you look back on the Middlesbrough game, Luton game and the Huddersfield game, they were draws that ultimately could have been wins. Take away Fulham, we haven't been blown away by anyone away from home.
"I don't think there is huge, drastic changes that need to happen, just getting that bit of belief on the road that we are going to turn draws into wins like we have been at home."