Gary Rowett hails Millwall character after win over Derby – and influence of club skipper

GARY Rowett piled praise on his players after their performance against Derby County gave them a second successive away win and moved them to within two points of the top six.

Tom Bradshaw's eighth goal of the season – his first in nine games and first under Rowett – was enough to clinch three points after Bart Bialkowski's superb save 10 minutes from time.

The Lions are unbeaten in seven league games and have taken 10 points from their last four on the road.

"We looked at our away form and trying to turn it around which is key at this stage of the season certainly," Rowett said. "You look at the four games we've had – Swansea, Birmingham, Bristol and Derby – we knew they were all going to be difficult games. To win three of them and draw one that we probably should have won is massive testament to the players.

"We've given them a slightly different structure and way of playing. Derby have good rotation and good movement around their centre-halves so it made it difficult to press. We stayed a little bit too deep at times. When we did pass the ball on transitions we got into some really good areas.

"It wasn't one of our better performances but nevertheless to come here against a team that had been unbeaten in nine [at Pride Park] and limit them to one deflected shot on target is a massive effort from all the players.

"Sometimes you're going to play well which we did at Bristol City and controlled the game. We controlled the game out of possession today so I can't be too disappointed.

"The last 10 minutes is what our team is all about. Stick it in the box and they'll head it away no matter how many times it goes in there. They're full of character."

Rowett was also delighted with the contribution of ex-Rams defender Alex Pearce as he explained his influence at the club.

Rowett continued: "Pearcey's been brilliant for us. He didn't play in the first few games because we played a back four at home and Shaun Hutchinson and Jake Cooper have been outstanding since I've been here. There was no reason to change it.

"Pearcey's had to be patient just like he did when I was at Derby. He's a great character. I felt that away from home not only would it get Pearcey into the team but it would get leadership into the team, get his organising into the team.

"He's such a popular character in the dressing room because he sets the standard. Sometimes as a manager you almost don't have to do it in the week because Pearcey is always saying the right things. And that's whether he's in the team or out of the team.

"I think that shows great leadership from him, great captaincy and that's the type of character anyone wants in their squad.

"Sometimes he might have to step aside in some games for the other two, sometimes they might have to step aside for him.

"But he's been absolutely fantastic."

Rowett said there was no extra pleasure in getting three points against his former club.

"I think this is a great club. When you leave people think you're not loyal or whatever, but you can't tell everyone the circumstances of why you do.

"I came back to try to win the game because I'm employed by Millwall and have a massive, massive desire to move Millwall forward, just as I had at any club I've been at."

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly