Millwall booked their spot in the FA Cup fourth-round draw following their convincing 3-0 victory over League Two side Newport County over the weekend.
Gary Rowett’s side were looking to avoid an upset against a side who progressed to the fifth round last campaign and goals from Matt Smith, Connor Mahoney and Tom Bradshaw ensured the Londoners sealed their third straight victory.
The Lions have made significant progress this season following the departure of former boss Neil Harris, with new boss Rowett having seen his side climb up to seventh in the Championship table as they target a play-off push this term.
Their cup victory over Newport now means that Millwall have the opportunity to also embark on a cup run this season, with the Lions having a strong recent record in the competition, having reached the quarter-finals twice under Harris’ guidance.
The Bermondsey outfit raced into a seventh-minute lead against their third-round opponents as Smith poked the ball home to score his seventh goal of the season, with the striker handed a start after scoring during Millwall’s last match against Luton.
Here, we take a closer look at Smith’s performance against the Exiles…
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The 30-year-old was handed just his fourth start under Rowett following his goal and assist during the 3-1 win over Luton last time out, and the frontman lasted for almost an hour before being replaced by Bradshaw with the Lions leading by one goal.
Smith was the man responsible for this opening goal as he found a pocket of space at the back post in order to poke the ball home from a corner, and it was this strike that eased any nerves regarding a potential upset against their fourth-tier opponents.
The former QPR and Leeds man does not possess the pace to take on opponents regularly, with this meaning he often depends on his hold-up play in order to drive his side forward, and he registered a respectable 75% passing accuracy against the Exiles.
Smith must improve when battling with opponents for possession seeing as he only won 44% of his aerial duels and 42% of his overall duels on Saturday, with this suggesting he lost the ball to the League Two side on a number of occasions.
The fact the forward was not able to show more dominance against lower-league opposition will come as something of a concern, particularly given that Smith is a tall and strong player who should be more capable of winning these battles regularly.
However, it should be noted that Smith was able to make a contribution in defence as he recorded one clearance against Newport, with this revealing that he can provide assistance at both ends of the pitch for his side when called upon.