GARY Rowett hailed an “outstanding” performance after Millwall defeated Bristol City 2-1 at Ashton Gate on Tuesday night.
Jed Wallace gave the Lions the lead in the 11th minute with his eighth goal of the season before Jake Cooper headed in his first of the campaign from Wallace’s free-kick 20 minutes from time.
Millwall were comfortable until six minutes left when Callum O’Dowda gave his side hope and Bart Bialkowski had to make a superb stop in the 94th minute to deny Pedro Pereira what would have been an undeserved equaliser for the hosts.
It was the Robins’ first home defeat in the league since the opening day.
"I thought we were outstanding, against a side like Bristol City with the home record they have and their position in the league table," Rowett said.
"I have to say that in the first half we opened them up countless times and it was a bit like the Forest game where we couldn't believe we were only one up at the time. They had good control of possession at times, but the way we set up meant we didn't mind that. The higher they get, the more opportunities we get on those transitions, which we worked really well.
"That's twice now that we've played a 5-2-3, which is something we always felt could work away from home and be the solution for us.
“To win away at Swansea, be comfortable for much of the game here at Bristol City, it's fantastic.
“The only thing I've actually had a go at the lads for in there is the way we had to hang on in the last 10 minutes. Their goal changed everything really, and I just want us to know we can still go and press at two goals up. I know you naturally feel as if you're protecting something at that point, and I'd like to just see us use our ability more in those situations, play how we did in the first 45 minutes.”
Cooper led a brilliant defensive effort late on as City pummelled the Lions’ box.
Rowett added: "We put our bodies on the line when we needed to. They're a bright side, they play with a lot of movement, whereas at Swansea we could press a little higher through our full-backs.
"So we had to be patient tonight. We had to almost sacrifice quite a bit of possession, and because of things we've worked on we were able to get into some easy areas and exploit them with our movement at the top end of the pitch.
“That showed with the first goal. Mahlon [Romeo] and Jed work excellently down that right-hand side, and we were close to creating so much more too. It's just getting that final action spot on.
"They changed their shape which will always cause sides problems. They have players like [Niclas] Eliasson who can still hurt you even if you double up on him. [Famara] Diedhiou will also be one to cause problems up top.
"I'm delighted for Coops, too. If you're 6’6’’and can head the ball like he can, ideally you want to be scoring five or six goals a season.
“What I would say is this is more evidence of good set-piece work – it's a great way for us to score goals – and we've been really good at it. We have players who can score from all different areas."
Image: Millwall FC