Kemar Roofe backed Leeds United to pass a “test of character” brought on by their first defeat of the season after Millwall subjected the club to familiar treatment at the New Den.
A second-half goal from Aiden O’Brien broke United’s seven-match unbeaten run and extended Millwall’s dominant record at home to Leeds, earning the Bermondsey club an eighth win in nine meetings at their own ground.
Leeds have won only twice at the New Den in the past decade and Thomas Christiansen’s side were overrun by a high-energy performance from Millwall, who also ended United’s sequence of six successive clean sheets in the Championship.
Saturday’s result did not prevent Leeds from holding onto first place in the league in a three-way tie with Wolverhampton Wanderers and Cardiff City but Christiansen described his side’s display as a “bad game” and said he and his players would be “critical of ourselves” despite their previous form.
Roofe was introduced as a half-time substitute on Saturday, alongside Stuart Dallas, after Millwall overran Leeds in a one-sided first half.
United failed to redress the balance of the game after the interval and Millwall struck a post before O’Brien converted a close-range chance on 73 minutes from what appeared to be an offside position.
Roofe said: “It’s disappointing but our run was always going to end at some point. We have to learn from it and kick on again.
“We’ll break down where it went wrong. There were many factors. They put the ball in the net and we didn’t. They were up for it and their fans were going at it. The atmosphere was massive and they got behind their team. It possibly played a part but we could have done better.
“This is our first defeat of the season so we have to take the ups with the downs and move on from it. It’ll be a test of our character but it could be a good thing because we’ll push even harder and go again. It’s extra motivation.”
Christiansen called for a quick response from his players, saying: “The first thing (I want) now is a reaction. A reaction after a defeat. We have to learn from our mistakes and bring it to the next game.
“It’s been a good run but they scored and we didn’t succeed in taking a point. We knew this moment would arrive.”
Leeds amassed 17 points from their first seven league games, taking the club to the top of England’s second tier for the first time since 1990, and O’Brien’s winner ended a long run without conceding a goal which stretched back more than nine hours to a 3-2 win over Bolton Wanderers on August 6.
Christiansen was pleased to see United hold onto top spot in the table, saying: “I’m happy with that. What I need to bring with me are the things we can learn from this defeat. We have to be critical of ourselves and with me first. The players have to see themselves what they could have done better. The plan for this game was clear. We knew it would be a direct aggressive game with fast transition in attack but we were not able to stop it or go into the battle with the same intensity.”