Gary Rowett felt his Millwall side thrived in the “chaos” as a pair of second-half Tom Bradshaw goals saw them come from behind to beat Stoke 2-1.
Romaine Sawyers curled home from the edge of the area area 20 minutes to give Stoke a 1-0 lead at the Den and the Lions were booed off at half-time by their own fans.
But they produced the reaction their manager wanted as Sheyi Ojo teed up Bradshaw for a close-range finish after 51 minutes and the striker had a second shortly after, turning home Ryan Leonard’s cross.
And, while Rowett was pleased with the response, he admitted his side need to start hitting their straps before falling behind.
“We seem to be a very good reactionary team, I would like us to be a little bit more proactive from the start,” he said.
“I just felt, when there was chaos in the match, we looked like we thrived a little bit more in the chaos than Stoke did.
“As soon as we scored the goal it just looked like we were more comfortable with the game swinging end to end.”
It was just a second home win since August for Millwall and Rowett knew his players needed to step things up in front of their own supporters.
“We’ve worked hard all week, we’re aware that our home performances haven’t been quite good enough overall,” he added.
“Even though we’ve won a few of them we still haven’t been quite good enough, we’re aware of that.
“They [Stoke] are a good side, they made it very difficult for us to get any real intensity early. You can only do that when you’ve got the ball and, when we did have the ball, we used it so poorly in the first 20 or 25 minutes.
“To concede the goal and be 1-0 down coming in at half-time, everyone was edgy – players were edgy, fans were edgy.”
With both of Bradshaw’s goals coming from close-range, Stoke boss Michael O’Neill lamented his side’s defending but had no complaints about the final result.
“We’re extremely disappointed with the result, obviously,” said O’Neill. “Similarities to what happened last Saturday [a 2-1 defeat to Sheffield United] – we conceded two goals in a very short space of time, two goals that were clearly very preventable as well.
“You don’t expect to lose goals in your six-yard box playing three at the back. We didn’t defend the box well enough really.
“We can’t say that we deserved anything from the game because we didn’t do enough for long enough.”
O’Neill urged his side to develop a killer instinct and a resilience that was missing against the Lions.
“Millwall sort of crept into the game a little bit before half-time. We addressed that at half-time and said, ‘Get back out, get on the ball and play’ and we didn’t do it until we were 2-1 down,” he said.
“You’re chasing the game and it is concerning because when you’re ahead you have to be ruthless enough to kill the game off, which we didn’t display, and secondly when you concede you’ve got to be resilient enough not to concede again.”
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