BY JAKE SANDERS
Millwall’s wait for an away league victory will go into 2019 as a Saido Berahino goal earned Stoke City a 1-0 win at the bet365 Stadium.
The Potters striker nodded home on 61 minutes to ensure the Lions head into the Christmas period still in the relegation zone and remain without a Championship victory since October.
The Lions were backed by a sold-out away following and could have sent their 1,500 travelling crazy inside the opening minutes.
Jed Wallace did fantastically well to beat Erik Pieters before whipping over a teasing cross that Stoke captain Ryan Shawcross almost diverted past his own goalkeeper – forcing Jack Butland into making a sharp stop. Lee Gregory was unable to convert the rebound before Ryan Tunnicliffe’s effort was deflected wide.
It took Stoke a while before they could get into the game, but even when they did, a James McClean strike that was straight at Jordan Archer was the closest they came to breaking the deadlock.
And despite their masses of possession, it was the Lions that were creating the better chances. This time it was down the left. James Meredith and Shane Ferguson combined well before the latter found Gregory in the box, but his left-footed strike was deflected away from danger.
Just like Millwall in the first-half, Stoke came out of the blocks quickly and just 16 minutes after the interval they went in front. The lively Ince picked out Berahino in the box and the forward was left all alone to head past Archer.
That goal seemed to wake the Lions up, but it was only after Harris threw on Aiden O’Brien and Steve Morison that they looked likely to grab something from the game.
Just four minutes after O’Brien’s introduction, he had a golden chance to level. But after breaking down the left, he failed to find a team-mate from a wonderful position and Butland easily collected.
Ince flashed a free-kick wide from 25-yards, while down the other Jake Cooper headed wide from a Shane Ferguson corner. Millwall’s centre-back then became provider as he sent over a deep cross for Morison, but he could only hook agonisingly past the far post.
The final chance of another frustrating afternoon fell O’Brien’s way, but his well-struck volley was straight at Butland.