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‘Be proud’ – What Millwall boss Rowett told his players after Championship finale – South London News

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Gary Rowett told his Millwall players to be proud of their 2021-22 Championship campaign despite seeing their play-off hopes ended on the final day.

Kieffer Moore’s 81st minute goal sealed a 1-0 win for Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium.

The Lions had to get three points and hope other sides slipped up. But Sheffield United and Luton Town both picked up victories, meaning that even if the South Londoners had signed off in style it would not have been enough.

Blackburn’s win dropped Millwall to ninth in the final table.

The Lions have had to combat a succession of injuries which have impacted their selections.

Even on the final day they were without Scott Malone and Arsenal loanee Daniel Ballard.

Rowett said: “It’s been a tough season, in many ways. We’ve had to work incredibly hard, probably a lot harder than we usually have to – just to find a way to win games [without key players available]. It’s been very difficult to get a settled team and very difficult to get our best side [out there] but the team has found a way – that shows such character, hunger and drive.

“Even today, we gave the game a real good go. We had to change formation one or two times and we started really well, there wasn’t an awful lot in the game and we had to chase it. That opens it up and Kieffer Moore capitalises on that with a bit of quality. We had other bits and moments where we really should’ve done better on breakaways.

“I’m disappointed but the result didn’t make much difference because of results going against us. It has been a good season. I said that to the players: ‘Don’t be downhearted, you can all be proud of what you’ve achieved’. As a manager I can always be a bit more miserable because I want to get in the top six, simple as that. But the players and staff have given everything. I can’t really ask for a lot more from them.

“It can’t be a failure when you come to Bournemouth [and don’t win]. You’re up against a top-class side. They took the game very seriously. For them to be able to bring the likes of Dembele and Moore, it shows the difference in options at the top end of the division. It’s that which won the game today.

“Our balance was affected by a lack of options. We’ve got Scottie Malone injured and Murray Wallace had to come off at half-time, he shouldn’t have played. That kills your chances to chase the game like we wanted.

“I’m not disappointed. It’s been our best season, in terms of points. There’s been improvements.”

Asked if he knew the results elsewhere, Rowett replied: “We knew everything all the way through the game. It was just for me and the coaches to make sure we made good decisions.

“I saw the [Luton] goal – I’m not going to talk about that one. I think someone slipped the keeper £20. Luton probably deserved a huge slice of fortune with their efforts this season. We knew we’d be open and had to put attacking options on, drawing the game made no sense to us at all.”

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