BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Murray Wallace admitted that the state of the Den pitch ensured that Millwall could not be at their free-flowing best in Saturday’s FA Cup win over Newport County.
The Lions booked their place in the fourth round with goals from Matt Smith, Connor Mahoney and Tom Bradshaw.
Wallace, whose goals against Everton and AFC Wimbledon helped take the SE16 outfit to the last eight of the competition in the 2018-19 season, said: “It was a professional job – we did what we had to.
“I don’t think we were at our best. The pitch isn’t the best at the moment so we couldn’t move the ball as quick as we wanted. It was a bit of a slow tempo in the first half.
“We controlled the game. We created opportunities and took them when we got them.
“We’ve had good history in it [the FA Cup] over the last couple of years so hopefully we can have a good run in it this year.
“A good cup run gets players involved that haven’t been playing as much in the league. It gets them match fit and ready to go, which is a real bonus. You can see what a little bit of confidence can do for the likes of Connor Mahoney, it takes off.”
Wallace has played solely on the left side of Millwall’s defence this season.
When he was signed in the summer of 2018 from Scunthorpe United it looked as if his role would be central.
But the Scot has no issue with operating in a wider role.
“It’s been fine,” he said. “I played the majority of my games at left-back last season as well.
“This season, I’ve been pushed on a little bit in some games as a left wing-back. I’ve definitely got the energy and stamina for it, just the attacking side of the game sometimes isn’t quite as natural to me, obviously having been a centre back for the majority of my career. It’s probably an area I need to work on.”
Millwall were heading to the semi-final of the FA Cup last season until a howler by David Martin saw Solly March’s effort creep in – Brighton going on to win in a penalty shootout at The Den.
So does that provide extra motivation to go one step further?
“Last season we were more focused on the league because of the position we were in, a real dogfight,” said Wallace. “The FA Cup was a bit of a break for us – the pressure was off and we could express ourselves a little bit more. This season we’re focused on the league as well, hopefully in a different position pushing forwards. It’s a welcome break. You can take more chances and express yourselves more in these one-off games.”