The energy and excitement of the fans was missed in South Bermondsey as the Lions kicked off their campaign with a low thrills stalemate at home to Stoke City.

It was the same problems as last year for the home side, who struggled to create chances against a disciplined Michael O’Neil side.

The first half matched the general atmosphere a new season kicking off behind closed doors. No fans, no buzz of anticipation, no chatter of mates catching up after their summer holidays and on the pitch, no real action.

Stoke had the better of the early stage, disrupting Millwall with an energetic press. Bartosz Bialkowski was called into action twice the first ten minutes, off his line quickly to prevent danger.

There was very little for home fans to shout about (from their living rooms). The only real sight at goal was Jon Dadi Bodvarsson’s tame 18th minute effort at the end of a Scott Malone counter.

The best chance of the half fell to Tyrese Campbell, who beat Alex Pearce with quick feet, before seeing his shot from the left deflected in the side netting on 36 minutes.

The second half matched the first’s for excitement.

Millwall came out with greater energy, but the quiet, empty stadium soon drained it away.

Sam Vokes’ effort, dragged wide from the edge of the area, was about as exciting as it got.

Frustration grew in players’ voices, their calls and cries echoing over a backing track of rumbling trains.

Millwall’s acting efforts were summed up in the 82nd minute. Jed Wallace burst forward on a dangerous counter attack, but a poor square pass was behind the supporting Connor Mahoney, who saw his effort blocked on the edge of the box.

The game had the hallmarks of a post-COVID impacted season, the quick turnaround hampering both in terms of fluidity and fitness.

Neither side will be overly impressed with their performances, but a draw is better than a loss, as both look to improve on their campaigns last year.


Millwall: Bialkowski; Leonard, Hutchinson, Pearce, Cooper, Malone (M. Wallace 81); Thompson, Williams; J. Wallace, Bodvarsson (Smith 63), Bennett (Mahoney 63).

Subs: Wright, Bradshaw, Ferguson, Skalak.

Stoke City: Davies; Fox, Baath, Chester, Martins Indi, Smith; Obi Mikel, Clucas, Powell (Thompson 86); Vokes (Brown 77), Campbell (Fletcher 64).

Subs: Butland, Ince, Tymon, Souttar.