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Flemming goal gives Millwall boss Rowett happy return to Stoke
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Millwall’s Zian Flemming (left) celebrates against Stoke (Tim Markland/PA).
Millwall’s Zian Flemming (left) celebrates against Stoke (Tim Markland/PA).

Gary Rowett enjoyed a happy return to Stoke as his Millwall side boosted their play-off hopes with a 1-0 win.

The former Potters boss, who was in charge for seven months in 2018/19, oversaw a plain-sailing victory back at the bet365 Stadium.

Zian Flemming notched his 11th league goal of the season as his early strike proved the difference.

Stoke had their fair share of opportunities, with a Jacob Brown strike ruled out for offside as their four-game unbeaten home run came to an end.

The visitors coasted towards a fifth victory in their ninth league outing in 2023 as they continue to mount a promotion push.

The game burst into life in the ninth minute when Millwall took the lead.

Dutchman Flemming collected the ball on the halfway line and advanced forward unchallenged before calmly slotting home beyond Matija Sarkic.

It was an all-too-familiar feeling for the locals as Stoke conceded the first goal for the 19th time in boss Alex Neil’s 28 league games in charge.

The Potters did respond positively to their early setback, however, with an in-form Josh Laurent attempting to orchestrate a fightback.

After notching a double in their midweek win at Swansea, Laurent again threatened, but his fierce strike from range was off target.

The hosts thought they had found their leveller in the 17th minute when Brown buried a close-range finish.

However, the Scotland international was adjudged to have strayed into an offside position when he converted from Dwight Gayle’s miscued effort.

Gayle, who ended his 50-match goal drought in January, then spurned two glorious opportunities to equalise before the interval.

The 33-year-old forward first nodded a tame header straight at George Long before then misjudging a volley from a dangerous position.

A lively Laurent again came close to equalising, but his goal-bound strike took a deflection before whistling wide of a post.

After the restart, Tom Bradshaw looked destined to mark his return to the starting line-up with a goal, yet Ben Wilmot’s despairing block thwarted him.

January arrival Bersant Celina – making his second league start – tried his luck from range as Stoke struggled to force a breakthrough.

The Potters had scored 10 goals in their previous four home matches but were repeatedly repelled in the second half.

Millwall, who have conceded the fourth fewest goals in the division, were characteristically resilient as they closed out victory.


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