Millwall 3 Stoke 1

Last updated : 12 April 2003 By Footymad Previewer

Millwall dealt Stoke City a hammer blow in their relegation battle as they eased to victory in a one-sided encounter.

Tony Pulis' City side arrived at the New Den unbeaten in seven games and were buoyed by a midweek win that moved them a place outside the division’s drop zone.

Millwall's ban on travelling fans for certain high category clashes this season meant that the latest episode in the Potters bid to stave off an instant return to Division Two did not have the vocal backing of their own supporters.

The strange atmosphere inside the ground seemed to affect the City players who failed to manage a single effort at goal in the opening 45 minutes.

Pulis has drafted in no less than four Premiership loan signings to bolster their chances, but they had little effect as Stoke showed no sign that they were fighting for their First Division lives.

Mark McGhee's Millwall outfit had little to play for other than professional pride and the chance to record a three-game winning sequence for the first time in an injury plagued campaign.

But if City expected to roll into town and collect the points, they had another think coming, as the Lions started brightly and got better.

Neil Harris opened the scoring as he took the pace off Mark McCammon's cross to steer a header into the top corner.

The striker had earlier been denied by former Lions loan signing Mark Crossley and when the keeper hacked a clearance at Harris a second goal appeared a certainty until the Middlesbrough man made amends.

A succession of missed opportunities meant that City escaped with only a one-goal half-time deficit, but within nine minutes of the restart the game was beyond them.

Andy Roberts robbed Brynjar Gunnarsson on the edge of the area before drilling shot into the bottom corner. And when City were caught out by a quick free-kick David Livermore cut in from the left to thump a right-foot shot into the roof of the net.

Pulis opted for positional and personnel change, but his three substitutes fared little better as Dennis Wise and Roberts were allowed to run proceedings from midfield.

Sergei Shtaniuk gave the visitors a glimmer of hope as he glanced home Clive Clarke's free-kick 17 minutes from time. But that was to be Stoke’s only effort on goal all afternoon, and they must surely do better in the weeks to come to avoid the drop.