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Gary Rowett hails Charlie Cresswell after dream debut
The on-loan Leeds defender scored both goals in an opening-day win over Stoke, where his father Richard formerly played.
Millwall manager Gary Rowett was delighted with how Charlie Cresswell seized his opportunity after the centre-back’s two goals on his debut helped his new side to a comfortable victory over Stoke.
Cresswell has family connections with the Potters, as his father Richard was part of the squad promoted to the Premier League in 2008, but there was no room for sentiment for the Leeds loanee.
The 19-year-old may not even have played had the more experienced Shaun Hutchinson not picked up a groin injury in the build-up to the game.
His promotion reaped rewards, though, as Cresswell made the most of the Lions’ threat from corners against a Stoke side who offered all too little in response.
Rowett said: “I just said to him, ‘it doesn’t get any better than that, does it’?
“I thought as a young player making his Millwall debut, he showed us what he is all about.
“I spoke to him on Tuesday – he’s worked incredibly hard and has been excellent in pre-season – and I just said ‘look, I’m really impressed with you, but you might have to be a bit patient with the centre-halves we’ve got’.
“Hutchy pulled out in training towards the end of the week, but it made team selection easy and he went straight in the team.
“It wasn’t just the goals, as impressive as they were with the way he attacked both goals, it was the way he defended.
“He got a yellow card in the first half and I think he showed great control and great composure to know when to step in and when to come out with the ball.”
Cresswell put Millwall ahead after 12 minutes when he rose to meet fellow summer arrival George Honeyman’s corner to plant a firm header past a static Joe Bursik.
Stoke were almost handed an equaliser when Tyrese Campbell’s shot squirmed through the clutches of Bartosz Bialkowski, who reacted just in time to prevent the ball crossing the line.
The Lions began the second half well, with former Stoke striker Benik Afobe curling over from a tricky angle before Bursik did well to keep out Tom Bradshaw’s effort.
The Potters’ goalkeeper then showed good reflexes to push away another powerful header from Cresswell.
However, he was let down by some shoddy marking from Scott Malone’s corner in the 65th minute as Cresswell was left alone to volley in his second and effectively seal the game.
Stoke boss Michael O’Neill was disappointed with his side’s fragility from set-pieces, saying: “We changed the markers at half-time because we were concerned about it.
“We’ve used markers in a semi-zonal system, so there are different areas, but in terms of defending set-pieces I’m not sure we’ve got any personnel in the building that would have given us any more added strength in that situation.
“That’s the disappointing aspect of it.
“I knew we would have to deal with (Jake) Cooper in particular but obviously it was the other lad, Cresswell, who was a threat as well and found space in behind.
“We got blocked and if you’re a marker, you can’t get blocked and ultimately if you look at the second goal, it’s a volley and not a header. For him to get a volley in that area of the penalty area is very disappointing.”