O’Neill not worried by Stoke’s lowly position

Stoke boss Michael O’Neill was quick to take the positives after a dour 0-0 draw with 10-man play-off chasing Millwall.

Chances were few and far between while Shaun Williams saw red with five minutes to go when he clattered into defender Liam Lindsay.

The struggling Potters are just a point above the Championship drop zone but O’Neill stressed: “The important thing is we didn’t lose the game and we kept a clean sheet.

“It gives us another point and adds a little bit of momentum to us as well.

“Home games always give you that opportunity to create some breathing room in the relegation battle.

“But we’re not constantly looking over our shoulder, we’re looking to add points.

“It’s not a case of looking at the other teams, we have to focus on ourselves.”

It was a game devoid of any real quality as both sides struggled with the blustery conditions in Staffordshire at the bet365 Stadium.

O’Neill added: “We’re disappointed. Overall it was probably a disappointing game to be honest from both sides.

“The conditions obviously added to that, the conditions were very tough for players at times with the wind.

“I thought second half we were better and we just didn’t capitalise on the opportunities that we had.

“It was a game where it was hard to create a really good chance and I think if there was any team which looked most likely to win it it was us.

“We just didn’t manage to find that quality we needed to go and win the game.

“Millwall are well drilled and are in a good run of form themselves. We just didn’t seem to be able to get into the right areas to deliver that quality ball.”

Lions boss Gary Rowett continued his impressive start at the London club with just two defeats now in 14 league games.

But his charges missed the chance to put away the lowly Potters and jump into the coveted play-off spots.

Rowett reflected: “It was a difficult game, a poor game in terms of a spectacle. That’s what the Championship is like sometimes, the wind swirls around this stadium and makes it so difficult.

“First half we probably tried to over-play to get into the positions we wanted to.

“Stoke were probably more direct than we had expected to get into the positions they wanted to.

“Second half was probably the opposite, we then become direct because we’re not making the extra pass, and Stoke started to get a little bit more control of the ball.

“I’d like to see us use the ball better but what we have got is incredible spirit and determination to get results. We’ve had some difficult games.

“When we came in it was a challenge to try to improve the away form. I think we’ve certainly gone a long way to doing that.

“Today’s game was tough, certainly one that I’m not going to particularly relish watching back.

“I’m not just saying this now but I haven’t seen the incident [Williams’ tackle] again.

“You know with the momentum of the challenge and the fact that everyone rushes towards the player, the crowd get animated, it’s going to be one that could possibly be a red card.

“Whether he’s led with the arm, I couldn’t see, whether it’s the impact. But I think when you try to win the ball with that force and you don’t win it there’s always that risk.”

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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