Millwall extended their impressive recent run of form in the Sky Bet Championship on Saturday, as the Lions made it just one defeat in thirteen games with an important 1-0 win over Reading at The Den.
The result was made all the more impressive considering Reading’s form going into the clash, with the Royals winning four of their previous five.
Nevertheless, Millwall continue to be right in the hunt for the play-offs, with the Lions currently sitting one point and one position off the top six.
A key factor behind that has been Gary Rowett, who has lost just twice in the league since taking charge at the club in late October.
One crucial player for Millwall on the weekend was Matt Smith, who opened the scoring with twenty minutes left on the clock, slotting home an impressive low finish into the bottom corner.
Here, we analyse his performance against Reading on the weekend in depth…
QUIZ: Can you name every Millwall player’s squad number?
The 6’5″ forward returned to the starting lineup once again for the Lions in this game, his first since Millwall’s 3-0 win over Newport in the FA Cup third round at the beginning of the month.
The manager’s decision to play the 30-year-old from the off proved critical to the result, as Smith got on the scoresheet for the seventh time in the Championship.
Rowett elected to play with a 4-4-2 against Reading, as opposed to a 3-4-3, and the decision paid off. Smith was a handful during the game, and proved to cause a lot of problems for the Reading back line.
The attacker won twelve aerial duels during the match, with his height and physical prowess being a big factor behind that. Such an advantage in terms of height also suits Millwall’s style of play, with long balls and set piece routines being a big part of how Millwall create scoring chances.
Smith also showed his shooting efficiency during the game, with two of his four total shots on target, and one leading to a goal. He made a total of six touches in Reading’s penalty area as well.
With a passing accuracy of 67%, Smith also demonstrated calmness in possession of the football, adding to the quality of his overall display.