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John Eustace praises Blackburn’s fighting spirit to earn Millwall draw

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 5 Mar 2024

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Blackburn boss John Eustace praised his side’s fighting spirit after a second-half strike from Sammie Szmodics salvaged a 1-1 Championship draw against Millwall at Ewood Park.

The result left Eustace still searching for his first win as Rovers boss but he found plenty to be positive about after the hosts hit back from Michael Obafemi’s shock 53rd-minute opener.

“It wasn’t a classic but again the lads have shown fantastic character and togetherness, to come from a goal behind against a difficult opponent,” said Eustace.

“I was pleased with the reaction. We dominated possession without really testing their keeper, but we worked hard and stuck together and it was a good point in the end.

“The boys since I’ve come in have been fantastic. We’re playing players who have come back from long injuries and they are running through brick walls for us. They are leggy and tired but they are fully committed to the cause.”

The point left Rovers in the thick of the relegation fight and the frustration was evident among some sections of the home support at the final whistle.

Szmodics proved a threat throughout but clear-cut chances were few and far between and Yasin Ayari’s speculative long-range effort in injury time summed up Rovers’ overall lack of threat.

Eustace added: “We have to show more belief in the final third but we are showing the right signs and with 10 games to go, it’s about not losing and getting the right result.

“There’s a lot of teams from around 10th spot down that can be involved in the relegation fight and it’s just vital we keep believing in what we’re doing.”

Millwall boss Neil Harris was satisfied with a point that extended his unbeaten run – since replacing Joe Edwards last month – to three games.

And Harris was particularly pleased with Obafemi who came off the bench to grab his first goal since signing his loan deal from Rovers’ Lancashire rivals Burnley.

Obafemi has struggled with fitness and illness since moving to The Den and Harris said: “I’m delighted for Mike.

“It was too risky to start him tonight because he’s our only fit striker coming back from injury, but I was really pleased with his performance.

“We’re really pleased with the points total of seven from three games. The glass is definitely half full and there are lots of positives that I’ve learned today.”

Harris insisted he would not attach any blame to Danny McNamara, whose blunder at the back allowed Szmodics in to sweep home Rovers’ equaliser.

Left-back McNamara has been one of the stand-out performers under Harris and the head coach said: “When you get your noses in front in a scrappy game at this stage of the season, you need to see the game out.

“Danny is disappointed but he will stand up and take responsibility and there were other things we didn’t do well in the build-up to the goal, so there is no individual blame culture.

“The big thing for me is that we came off tonight and we gave a really poor goal away but the players all mentioned that it was a really good point for us tonight.”

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