Jake Cooper on whether Millwall can challenge for top six – and changing 'old mindset'

JAKE Cooper isn’t putting any limits on what Millwall can achieve this season after their 2-1 win at Bristol City on Tuesday night moved the Lions to within four points of the play-offs.

Cooper scored his first goal of the season to add to Jed Wallace’s opener before Callum O’Dowda’s 84th-minute strike left Millall hanging on.

Cooper admitted that was disappointing after describing his initial reaction to the win.

“Relief,” he said. “The boys dug in and showed real quality to hold the lead. It’s something we’ve got to work on, we don’t want to sit that deep and get pressed in like we did.

“We want to control games, especially being 2-0 up. If we take disappointment away from the game that was it. But we’re really pleased to come away with three points.

“We always back ourselves in the final stages, we’ve got some big lads back there to deal with the pressure. A couple of seasons back we did it really well.

“It’s nice to come away from here being solid and to hold on is a positive. But we don’t want to be in that position, we want to control the last five or 10 minutes better than we did.

“It’s six unbeaten now and it’s a real credit to the lads and the group we’ve got here that we can do that. We’re looking forward to Derby and Barnsley after that and looking to rack up more points this Christmas period.”

Gary Rowett set his side up in a 5-2-3 formation and it is two away wins from two using that system.

“It’s maybe learning on the job, working little things out, but I think we’ve done really well,” Cooper continued. “Two games, two wins with it now so I’m sure it’s something we’ll use going forward.

“Players are really happy playing it, comfortable, we enjoy it. To have something different when we go away from home is a real positive or us. Hopefully it will be successful for us moving forward.

“We’ve been working on different things, getting different messages than we’ve had previously. Sometimes we’re maybe stuck in the old mindset, lack a bit of belief. You saw that the last 10 minutes, we were holding on for our lives.

“It’s something that we can work on. The manager said we need to work on that and give ourselves a bit more belief and believe that we’re a good team. We proved that in the first half. It’s just about carrying that on in the second half which maybe we haven’t done in recent games.

“It’s a good thing that we were able to see it out, but there are certainly learning points still.

“We’re positive, the manager backs us. We feel like him and the new coaching staff really believe in us. From my perspective, they’re pushing us forward and they believe that we’re a good side and good players.

“The possibilities are endless if we keep performing like that, especially first half. Who knows where we could end up at the end of the season?”

A potential top-six challenge?

“Why not? We’re a club that’s looking forward. We’re certainly looking up the table rather than down. If we can keep that mentality and keep believing in ourselves, who knows?

“It’s a tough league with some great sides in it so we’ll have to be at the top of our game and consistent.”

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly