BY ALEX GRACE
Gary Rowett said that he could not fault his Millwall players despite their 2-0 defeat at Stoke today.
The Lions’ eight-game unbeaten run was ended by a Jacob Murphy header and a George Saville own goal.
“When you look at our recent run of games since the Fulham game, then to be sat here having won six and drawn two up until today’s game is not bad,” said Rowett.
“I had to play more or less the same team and ask the players to go again. If you look at the game on Wednesday night, a TV game, the players gave an extra amount of energy and drive which we couldn’t quite muscle today.
“I don’t want to take credit away from Stoke because they played with a desperation to get a result. They fought incredibly hard, quicker to the ball than we were but nevertheless we concede two very poor goals and the two goals are both set-pieces. One is an own goal.
“We get a bit of a lifeline at the end, but that summed the game up for us. The keeper saves the penalty, but Jed has been so clinical from those situations.
“It would have made a nervy stadium with Stoke’s recent run at 2-1 for the last 15 minutes but I don’t think we deserved to today. They were better than us and we have to accept that it was a game too far for us.”
Defeat comes as the league breaks for the final round of international fixtures before the end of the season and the Lions boss is looking forward to a period to recharge.
“Proud of the players, they’ve been brilliant,” said Rowett. “We come out of it with massive credit. We are disappointed today but I don’t want that to overshadow the brilliant run we’ve been on the players have given everything.
“They will get a nice breather now. It’s important now with the players that came on and the players we get back although we might have lost Mason. He looks to have pulled his calf, which sums us up at the moment.
“We will come back and we will come back still in the fight. We are four points off the top six, the players should be proud of it.
“I said it five games ago, that we want to get to the international break in a competitive position and a competitive points tally.
“We probably picked up more points than we maybe thought we would. I can’t be disappointed, I’m disappointed with aspects of our performance today.
“Eight games to go, we’ll be re-energised, have players back, have a much more competitive squad and be in a good position to try and go again.”