By Jake Sanders
SAIDO Berahino scored the only goal of the game as Millwall slipped to their 12th Championship defeat of the campaign at Stoke City on Saturday afternoon.
The former West Bromwich Albion striker headed home with 29 minutes remaining to leave the Lions without a victory in eight games and in the Championship relegation zone going into Christmas.
Millwall boss Neil Harris made two changes from the side that were beaten 3-2 at Preston North End last weekend as Shane Ferguson and Tom Elliott replaced Aiden O'Brien and Steve Morison.
The Lions started on the front foot and could have taken the lead within the first minute. Jed Wallace skinned Erik Pieters before producing a delicious cross that Ryan Shawcross almost turned past Jack Butland, forcing the England goalkeeper into making an excellent stop. Lee Gregory was unable to turn home the rebound before Ryan Tunnicliffe’s shot was deflected behind for a corner.
Once Stoke settled down from that almost-disastrous start, they began to dominate but were struggling to break down a stubborn Millwall defence. James McClean cut inside from the left, but his right-footed effort was straight at Jordan Archer.
And despite the possession, it was the visitors who were creating the better chances. James Meredith and Ferguson worked it well down the left before the latter found Gregory, but his goal-bound effort was cleared off the line and away from danger.
The second half continued in a similar sort of fashion. Tom Ince did well to create space before blazing high over the bar, before Tunnicliffe followed suit at the other end.
Millwall were digging in deep and it took a moment of real quality for Stoke to finally break their resistance on 61 minutes. Ince again created space on the right and sent over a pin-post cross for Berahino to nod past Archer.
Harris threw on Morison and O'Brien as his side pushed for a late equaliser and the latter almost made an immediate impact. He was set free down the left but lacked any conviction and went alone instead of trying to find team-mate before his weak cross was easily claimed by a grateful Butland.
And straight up the other end Ince almost doubled the Potters’ lead, but his 25-yard free-kick curled narrowly wide of the target.
The Lions threw everything forward to try to rescue a point and should have scored what would have been a deserved equaliser. After a long spell of possession, Morison won a corner that was swung over by Ferguson, but the usually-reliable Jake Cooper could only head over from close-range.
Millwall went even closer moments later when the lively Morison poked narrowly wide from Cooper's deep cross.
O'Brien then hit a well-struck volley straight at Butland in stoppage-time and that was the final chance as Harris' side left Staffordshire with nothing, despite their battling display.
Image: Millwall FC