Boss Lee Johnson claimed Bristol City’s 1-1 draw at fellow play-off chasers Millwall proved they are back on track as they ended their three-match losing run.
City took the lead after just 10 minutes when Pedro Pereira fired past Bartosz Bialkowski but only had one further shot for the remainder of the game, meaning there were few complaints when they were pegged back by Tomas Kalas’ own goal soon after half-time.
The Lions seemed more likely to snatch a winner, although neither side genuinely looked as if they would take all three points, and Johnson was content with a marked improvement on a dismal midweek defeat to Huddersfield.
He said: “It was much better, that’s our baseline performance now, it’s got to be. I thought the first 15 minutes we were outstanding and, building on that, the whole first half.
“You come to Millwall on a boggy pitch, you’re going to expect balls into the box and we limited them to one corner in the first half, which was a sign of how well we pressed and hustled.
“I want to focus on the positives of the performance and the grit that the boys showed. You’re going to have to earn everything you get in a game like this and we had a side that wasn’t huge but coped admirably against the physicality of Millwall.
“I have to look at it overall as a good point. We get one point closer to where we want to be.
“When you come to Millwall you know it’s going to be difficult. For us to come away with a positive point is good.
“We’re starting from one of our worst performances since I’ve been here so to go from that level, to that identity, desire and quality, particularly first half, that’s a big jump in three days.”
The visitors took the lead when Pereira lashed home a low cross but a combination of Millwall striker Matt Smith and defender Kalas bundled Connor Mahoney’s corner into the City net just after the break.
The Robins are now two points off Preston in sixth, with the Lions three points further back, and Gary Rowett’s post-match mood was in stark contrast to his opposite number.
He said: “It’s hard for me to look at that positively. The first 20 minutes of the game we didn’t do anywhere near enough to grab the opportunity to close the gap.
“You’ve got to put a big performance in, from the start, but it was a really tepid opening 20 minutes and we gave them opportunities to counter-attack.
“From then on, we dominated the game and we’ve had 13 shots to their three, so it was clear to see which side had more attacking intent.
“We put them under the cosh, made it uncomfortable for them and a fair result would have been us winning the game.
“We’re in a stage of the season where all these moments count massively. I see goals in the Championship every week, where someone turns, shows a little bit of skill, sticks it in the top corner and wins them the game.
“We have to force our goals, rather than finding them out of nothing. We’ve got to play so well to win a game, whereas I see other teams get away with not playing well but coming up with that individual brilliance.”
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