Michael O’Neill’s Stoke beat Gary Rowett’s Millwall (Tim Markland/PA)
19 March 2022

Gary Rowett expresses his pride despite Millwall’s defeat at Stoke

19 March 2022

Gary Rowett expressed his pride despite Millwall slipping to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of his former employers Stoke.

The travelling Lions, who entered the fixture amid an eight-match unbeaten run, found themselves behind due to Jacob Brown’s precise header inside 20 minutes.

Brown, whose goal ended Millwall’s eight-hour run without conceding, missed a sequence of opportunities to consolidate the Potters’ control on the game, hitting a post from point-blank range.

However, his blushes were saved with George Saville flicking a Lewis Baker set-piece into his own net to calm the nerves of the home faithful, who had not witnessed a victory in the league since February 8.

The normally-reliable Jed Wallace had an opportunity to reduce their arrears from the penalty spot, but Jack Bonham saved well to sum up a disappointing afternoon for Rowett’s play-off hopefuls.

The Millwall boss said: “I don’t want to take credit away from Stoke today because they played with a desperation to get a result; I thought they worked incredibly hard. They were quicker than we were, but nevertheless we conceded two very poor goals.

“We got a bit of a lifeline at the end and it would have made for a nervy stadium with Stoke’s recent run and made it a very interesting end to the game, but I don’t think we deserved to get anything out of it.

“We have to accept that maybe it was just one game too far in this run – I’m proud of the players and I think they’ve been brilliant. We come out of it with massive credit and we’re disappointed today, but I don’t want that to overshadow the brilliant run the players have been on.

“They’ll get a nice breather now with the international break, they should be proud of the run and we should come back a little bit more energised.

“We’ll give it our best go when we come back and we’re still in the fight.”

Meanwhile for Stoke, the result marks the end of an eight-match run without a win and relieves the growing pressure on boss Michael O’Neill.

January addition Baker was instrumental to the victory, providing assists via a set-piece delivery for both goals, and was singled out for praise by the relieved Potters boss.

He said: “Lewis has been a great signing; we stole him really if I’m honest. He’s delivered and that’s because he feels valued here. We’ve given him a lot of responsibility and the captain’s armband when Joe Allen hasn’t played.

“He’s gone through a difficult period in his career where you’re constantly a loan player and now this is his first permanent club since Chelsea. How he’s approached things is what impressed me and he’s an excellent player.

“When you’re not winning, it’s the worst feeling ever. We’ve had a lot of times this season where we’ve come in and we’ve felt hard done by in games. Some of that has been self-inflicted, but the important thing was that we got a really good, controlled performance today.

“There was really good application from the players, we were really strong out of possession and we played some really good football as well. The performance from everyone was really good.”

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