Charlie Cresswell scored twice on his debut as Millwall opened their Championship campaign with a comfortable 2-0 victory against disappointing Stoke at The Den.

The Lions have long been a team capable of threatening from set-pieces and it was from this means that they claimed both of their goals, with their lead rarely being threatened.

The Potters, meanwhile, have been stuck in mid-table purgatory for the past few seasons and their insipid display in south London will need to be improved upon greatly if they are to even reach that this time around.

Benik Afobe, who left Stoke for Millwall permanently over the summer, had an early opening for the hosts but failed to anticipate Billy Mitchell’s cross falling for him at the back post and could not control.

But it did not take much longer for two of the Lions’ new arrivals to combine for the opening goal, as ex-Hull playmaker George Honeyman’s corner was met by a thumping header by Leeds loanee Cresswell in the 12th minute.

The early breakthrough did not do much in the way of opening the game up, with the Potters in particular finding it a real struggle to create openings.

They were almost gifted an equaliser, however, when Tyrese Campbell’s shot from edge of the area squirmed out of Bartosz Bialkowski’s grasp only for the goalkeeper to grab the ball just before it could cross the line.

The Lions fairly comfortably held their lead going into the break and they twice came close to doubling it in the early stages of the second half.

Afobe did well to cut inside Ben Wilmot before bending his shot from a narrow angle over, with Stoke goalkeeper Joe Bursik then making a good save to keep out Tom Bradshaw’s effort.

Josh Laurent sent a rare shot for Stoke over from Harry Clarke’s lay-off before Cresswell almost had his second headed goal of the match, from Scott Malone’s corner with Bursik’s reflex save preventing it.

Cresswell was not to be denied, though, as he took advantage of some awful marking by the Potters from another Malone corner to volley in from close range and double the hosts’ advantage in the 65th minute.

That goal effectively killed off the contest as Stoke hardly looked like threatening the hosts’ advantage when it was at just one goal, let alone two.

The Lions were able to give record signing Zian Flemming a gentle introduction in the last 15 minutes, safe in the knowledge three opening-day points were in the bag.


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