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Gary Rowett hails ‘fabulous desire and character’ as Millwall hold Birmingham

Gary Rowett hailed Millwall’s character (Kieran Cleeves/PA)
Gary Rowett hailed Millwall’s character (Kieran Cleeves/PA)

Millwall manager Gary Rowett has praised his side’s character as they twice came from behind to rescue a point from a 2-2 draw with Birmingham at St Andrew’s.

Benik Afobe’s 12th goal of the season kept the Lions’ Sky Bet Championship play-off chase alive when he slotted home from the penalty spot in the ninth minute of stoppage time.

Juninho Bacuna had opened the scoring 67 seconds into the second half before the hosts were pegged back by Oliver Burke’s second goal for the club.

Lyle Taylor’s 79th-minute penalty looked set to be enough to end Blues’ run of three consecutive defeats, but Afobe’s goal meant Millwall are now three points behind the top six with two games remaining.

Rowett spoke highly of his players’ desire to recover after falling behind on two occasions.

“We threw everything we had at it,” Rowett said.

“We made too many mistakes in the game and didn’t do the basics well enough at this stage of the season to pass the ball and open the game up.

“What we have got is fabulous desire and character. We ended up with Oliver Burke at right wing-back, Tyler Burey at left wing-back and Jake Cooper up front on his own. Maybe just because of that, we deserved something out of the game.”

With two games remaining, Millwall are three points behind Sheffield United in the last play-off place and Rowett has urged his team to do everything they can to break into the top six.

“We’ve got to take care of our own business,” Rowett added.

‘We’ve got to win those games and if we win those games, what you’ve seen is teams faltering all around the top 10 and teams with far better squads than ours. But we’re still in there because we’ve got character.”

Birmingham head coach Lee Bowyer felt his side edged the contest and sympathises with his players after they had two points snatched away in stoppage time.

“I thought from start to finish we were very good,” he said. “We competed, we won a lot of individual battles and we had to stand up and be counted all over the pitch, man to man, against a very good Millwall side.

“I believed we deserved to win the game, but yet again, another decision from the officials has cost us more points. It’s never a penalty.”

After seeing his side fall to a 6-1 loss at Blackpool last week, Bowyer credited his players for their reaction.

“To have the performance that we did (last week), to be able to turn that around as a group against a good Millwall side, that was pleasing for me,” Bowyer said.

“That’ll shut a few people up who say the players don’t play for me. People talk rubbish. You see that performance there and you tell me the players aren’t running about, for me?

“I think we deserved to win the game but the officials took that away from us and I feel for the players because to turn it around from last week to this week and the criticism they would have taken from everybody. I have to praise the players.

“Today they were outstanding from start to finish, every single one of them.”