Gary Rowett relieved after 'edgy' Millwall best Preston North End to provide play-off cushion

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Millwall manager Gary Rowett was left relieved after his side managed to beat Preston North End 2-0 on Saturday to help them in their play-off push.

Their help came at the expense of North End, who started the day level on points with the Lions, but a goal in each half from Tom Bradshaw and Zian Flemming proved to be the difference in the game – with Millwall’s only two shots on target in the match.

The home side had not been in great form going into the game, winless in four, whilst PNE had won three on the spin.

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With so much riding on the game with so few games to go – four after the meeting – and the Championship table being so tight, Rowett felt things got to his players a bit on the day.

Millwall manager Gary Rowett after the match at The Den,Millwall manager Gary Rowett after the match at The Den,
Millwall manager Gary Rowett after the match at The Den,

He said: “A win was important because after the last four games and not getting the win it felt like a must win, must perform. It was probably the edgiest we’ve looked on the ball.

"Perhaps it was because of the magnitude of the game, perhaps it’s because we haven’t had the results. We went to Hull and played really well on the ball, had lots of chances and lost the game.

"Today we looked edgy on the ball and gave the ball away too much. Up until the second goal I felt we looked a bit nervey, I can understand that and I felt it is caused us problems.

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"Preston are a good side, they’re in good form and at one stage it looked like they felt the pressure just as much as us but it was an edgy game.”

Ryan Lowe’s side were the ones asking the questions in the game, particularly in the second half, but they were instead undone and fell further behind in the game.

Rowett admitted that his side were struggling to cope with North End but once they doubled their lead, they found it to be the afternoon they had wanted.

He said: “I thought in the first half our front four, particularly when we lost the ball, were too high up the pitch. For me, games are about controlling space with and without the ball. When you see lots of space when the opposition have the ball, I don’t feel comfortable, I feel like there is something wrong with our defensive shape.

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"Even though I don’t think they had loads of big chances, they had enough opportunities round the edge of the box where we’ve just had to get a toe on it or we’ve had to just read that final 1v1, or we’ve had to block it. We’ve spoken about it over the last four games that we haven’t given away too many big chances but I thought today we gave away too much of the ball and too much territory.

"We looked edgy but what I would say is we found a way to win the game. It’s a good ball from Zian and a good header from Bradders (Bradshaw) and then the second one came at a really good time for us.

"We were under the cosh a bit, free kick, Jake Cooper heads it down, Zian reads it and then I think the finish is better than it looks. It’s not an easy finish and it’s a good goal to put us 2-0 up. Bradders scored, Zian scored, clean sheet and we looked reasonably comfortable after that.”