Slaven Bilic upbeat despite seeing West Brom draw with Millwall

Slaven Bilic refused to be too disheartened after West Brom were held by a determined Millwall at The Hawthorns.

The Croatian watched on as his side took a 57th-minute lead courtesy of an Alex Pearce own goal, only for Matt Smith to pop up with 15 minutes left and rescue a 1-1 draw.

Bilic, who oversaw West Brom’s opening-day win over Nottingham Forest, was pleased with lots that he saw in the hosts’ game, despite the fact they failed to make their long periods of dominance count.

“We had a lot of the ball, but we expected that. Our passing was good, was quick at the back and in the building up,” Bilic said.

“In the first half we had complete control but I wanted us to have that 20 yards further up.

“We didn’t create a lot, we had one great chance in the first half, but we created some good opportunities. Our decision making there wasn’t the greatest.

“I’m disappointed with the result, but I can’t be negative about the performance – the only thing I didn’t like, and it happened at Forest – we were kind of happy.

“Of course the opponent goes on the front foot and they’re hard to stop but you have to put them in trouble more.

“We finished the game with (Romaine) Sawyers and (Filip) Krovinovic as holding midfielders, which was risky. I’m pleased with the majority of the performance, but I can’t be with the result.

“We have to win home games, especially when we’re 1-0 up.”

His opposite number Neil Harris was comparably delighted.

Harris’ decision to send Smith on with the visitors a goal down bore fruit when the target man lashed the equaliser into the roof of Sam Johnstone’s net.

They then enjoyed a period of pressure themselves, but though Albion were the side that made most of the running across the course of the match, Harris insisted his side merited a point.

“It’s another real positive for the group to show the belief, the character and the confidence to come back from conceding a disappointing goal at a place like this, and then to go on and look so threatening,” Harris said.

“We deserved a point. Matt Smith was a handful, wasn’t he? Delighted he got the goal. He could’ve had eight in pre-season – I’ve never known somebody to have such bad luck! He can score goals in this team.

“The disappointment was conceding the goal that we did – it was poor and we should do better from that set-play – and their other opportunity came from us giving the ball away on the edge of our own box.

“I’m pleased for the team that Bart (Bartosz Bialkowski) was able to show his qualities as a goalkeeper in that moment.”

The opening goal had caused some confusion with regards to who it belonged to.

Though Kyle Bartley had wheeled away in celebration, replays suggested Millwall defender Pearce got the final touch.

Harris, though, believes the Baggies defender should be awarded the effort.

“I’ve watched it back and Kyle Bartley for me heads the ball,” he added. “Whether the ball then hits someone else, it doesn’t make the ball [change direction]. It’s on target so it’s his goal.”

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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