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Tony Mowbray praises ‘mature’ Ben Brereton as Blackburn draw with Millwall

Millwall v Blackburn Rovers – Sky Bet Championship – The Den
(Image credit: John Walton)

Blackburn manager Tony Mowbray believes goalscoring hero Ben Brereton has matured as a player after his header earned a battling 1-1 draw at Millwall.

His strike in the 76th minute continued what has been a wonderful summer for the 22-year-old, who starred in the Copa America with Chile following his surprise call-up to their squad.

Brereton has now scored in both of Rovers’ Championship fixtures this season, following up his decisive penalty against Swansea last week, with his side having to make do with a thin and inexperienced squad in the early days of the campaign.

That has placed extra responsibility on the shoulders of Brereton, but it is something he appears to be relishing having cancelled out Jed Wallace’s opener at The Den.

Mowbray said: “For the two or three years he’s been with us, I’ve talked about maturity.

“He’s had to grow into his body and I think he’s doing that now.

“You could see today that he puts his body in well now and bounces off players when that was never the case for the last year or so.

“I think he’s come back and has understood the physicality [needed].

“I think he’s always been a talented player. We paid a lot of money for Ben and I think the fruits are coming now.

“Moving forward, he’s hopefully hungry for goals. He enjoys playing with this group of players, he’s got a lovely, soft personality, so when I try and drive him to be aggressive sometimes, it’s not natural for him.

“But you saw today that he can do it. He’s a big specimen of a man and he needs to know how to use his body.”

There were very few chances in the first half, with Jake Cooper’s wide header from Wallace’s corner being the closest either team came to scoring.

George Saville also had an attempt from Scott Malone’s cut-back blocked, but it took until the 64th minute for the deadlock to finally be broken by Millwall.

It came from a rare moment of quality, as Daniel Ballard switched play to Malone on the left and he played in a superb first-time low cross which Wallace converted at the back post.

Blackburn, after providing little threat beforehand, then hit back when Brereton found the bottom corner after getting his head to Joe Rothwell’s free-kick.

Millwall boss Gary Rowett said: “I think if you look at the game, we’ve had 60 per cent possession and we’ve had about 18 shots, while they’ve had about one shot and they score with it, so it’s a frustrating game.

“Tony has got a good side, with good individual players, and I thought they worked hard as a team to make it difficult for us to play through them.

“They sat off and allowed us to try and see whether we can open them up and I thought we looked comfortable, without maybe having that little extra bit of zip about us to open those spaces.

“When we got the ball to our wing-backs, when we got good balls into box, when we attacked with a little bit more quality, I thought we got into some really good areas.

“We scored a very good goal and then we should see the game out.”