Nottingham Forest and Millwall played a 1-1 draw at the City Ground on Saturday in Steve Cooper’s first game in charge of the Reds.
It was a close game between Forest and Millwall, but one where both managers will be happy to come away with a point.
The Reds started the game brightly with Lewis Grabban forcing a good save from Lions ‘keeper Bartosz Bialkowski but it was Millwall who took the lead through Matt Smith.
The towering striker scored a header after Sheyi Ojo’s good work from the wing and it left Steve Cooper disappointed following training groundwork to stop the forward.
He spoke in his post-match press conference: “It was a goal that we had planned not to concede, we wanted to stop crosses because we know that’s their threat. We know they’ve got big Matt Smith, who can be a difference when balls are in the air and when the ball is in the box.
“We knew that was coming and when you plan for something, you obviously want to do a bit better.”
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But Cooper was pleased with the effort levels of his side who got back into the game through Max Lowe’s fluke goal: “You have two choices when things are going against you and you’re not winning – you either accept it and get beat or you roll your sleeves up and try and get back into it.
“We didn’t quite finish off the task by getting the three points, but we did our best and got back into the game.”
The draw leaves Forest third bottom with five points, two points adrift of safety.
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It was a steady first game for Forest under Cooper but you can understand his frustration given they’d specifically plan to try and stop Smith.
It was always going to be a difficult task against a Millwall side who are proving to be difficult to break down with their six draws this season.
Forest had their moments but Cooper will be looking for more from his players in the coming weeks as he gets to grip with his squad.
The squad is capable of competing higher up the table, and if Cooper can get the balance right, it could make for an exciting tenure at the City Ground for the Welshman.