BY JAKE SANDERS
Millwall boss Gary Rowett described Jed Wallace’s first-half performance against Nottingham Forest on Friday night as up there with the best he’s ever witnessed in the Championship.
The Lions midfielder, who was recently nominated for the November Player of the Month award, tormented Forest with a series of outstanding pieces of skill and provided the assist for Shaun Williams’ opener – his eighth of the season and third in as many matches.
However, despite a dominant first-half from Rowett’s men, they required a stoppage-time strike from substitute Aiden O’Brien to rescue a point after former Lion Lewis Grabban came off the bench to score a brace on his return to The Den.
Rowett said: “Any Championship game when you’re 2-1 down with four minutes to go I think you’d argue it’s a reasonable result.
“The first half performance was excellent, and they paid us a massive compliment by changing their shape and playing more physically to combat us
“They left their best two players on the bench and you knew they were going to try to keep it fairly tight and then try to change the game as it opened up late on.
“[They left] Grabban and [Joe] Lolley on the bench and you saw the impact they had when they came on, [Albert] Adomah as well.
“I thought first half we were great, there was some absolutely brilliant play, we attacked with a lot of incisiveness and it was just that last little bit. We keep getting into the final third and sometimes we just lack that tiny little bit of quality, which I can understand. It’s acceptable because we haven’t got the top-class players that other clubs have.
“Nevertheless we were wasteful and our set-piece delivery was unusually wasteful. We scored with a good one but we had seven or eight where we hit the first man.
“I was disappointed that we were only 1-0 up in the first half such was our dominance. You know Forest have good players and they’re going to have a good spell at some point.
“They made a change to their formation and showed what a quality side they are, that’s why they’re up the table.
“The first goal was disappointing. If they’re going to open you up they open you up with great quality but don’t concede from a set-piece. That was really disappointing for us, that’s twice in two weeks running we’ve conceded from a set-piece. It’s not like us.”
“The second goal came after we changed shape a little bit to get Jed in the middle. He knows that you can’t over-play in that area, take those risks in that area.
“His first-half display as absolutely brilliant, it’s as good a 45 minutes as I’ve seen anyone in the Championship play. I’ve got to accept that occasionally he might make some of those decisions, trying to do the right thing, and I don’t want to stifle his creativity.
“He’s got to get better at when and where he does it, but I’ve got to accept it a little bit because of his brilliance up the pitch.”
PHOTO BY KEITH GILLARD