Reading FC Match Report: 2019/2020 Season - Championship


READING 2 MILLWALL 1

Reading: J Obita (9), S Baldock (37)
Millwall: J Wallace (63)

Reading's revival under new manager Mark Bowen continued with a second successive home win against a Millwall side also adjusting to playing under a new boss. Brilliant strikes form Obita and Baldock proved to sufficient to secure the points in spite a spirited response from the visitors following a Jed Wallace goal against the run of play after sixty three minutes. Reading were not helped by losing Luke Moore due to a recurrence of his recent shoulder injury early in the second half. There were some anxious moments in the Reading penalty area in final twenty minutes but determination and a little luck enabled them to produce a win which continues the momentum gained in recent games.

The first half belonged to The Royals with Swift and Rinomohta driving them forward in midfield. Yiadom was running the Millwall defence ragged down the right, giving Murray Wallace the run around. (He nutmegged the big defender twice in the opening forty-five minutes.) Obita was getting forward to good effect on the other flank putting some telling balls into the Millwall box. It was Obita that set Reading on their way as they began test the Millwall defence. Running onto a loose ball on the edge of the box following a corner in the ninth minute, he drilled inside the far post.

Reading were dominant. Swift was spraying accurate and subtle passes all over the pitch as well as putting in a shift defensively. Rinomhota was penetrating the Millwall defence with surging runs from deep positions and winning a lot of the ball in midfield. Reading looked likely to overwhelm Millwall in front of their subdued supporters. Swift rattled the bar with free kick from an acute angle, Miazga’s superb near post glancing header from Swift’s corner required an outstanding full stretch save from Bialkowski, and Baldock also saw an effort saved by the MIllwall ‘keeper. Millwall held out until the thirty-seventh minutes when Ejaria picked out Baldock on the edge of the box. The Reading striker checked back with his first touch creating enough space to get his shot away. He finished with a ferocity and accuracy rarely seen in the Championship. A goal worthy of winning any game. Millwall were lucky not to further behind at half time.

Gary Rowett introduced former Royal Bodvarsson after the interval but it did little to change the pattern of the game as Reading played with a swagger not seen for a while. It is no exaggeration to say Reading were in complete control – until the sixty-third minute. Reading just had lost Moore after he had landed awkwardly on his recently damaged shoulder. He was unable to continue after lengthy treatment on the pitch. His replacement, Blackett got in a muddle with Baldock and Millwall pounced. Wallace powered his way into the Reading penalty area assisted by some sloppy defending and drove the ball past Raphael to bring Millwall back into the game.

From that point Millwall, encouraged by the goal, smelt blood and went at Reading with greater confidence and determination. Reading were let off the hook soon after when Wallace looked to be clear of the Reading defence but a heavy touch denied him the opportunity to level the scores. Baldock and Puscas were replaced by Loader and Meite. Miete was left isolated up front and Reading struggled to get out of their own half by sitting too deep. The introduction the giant Smith alongside Bodvarsson gave Millwall a significant advantage in the air which caused havoc in the Reading defence. Pressure and anxiety mounted as the visitors, urged on by their large contingent of travelling fans, went in search of an equaliser. Raphael’s indecision on a couple of occasions did little to ease the tension. Bodvarsson came very close to ruining Reading’s day with a spectacular overhead effort which flew just outside the post and another away goal looked a distinct possibility. But this is a new Reading, and determination, combined with just a little desperation, saw out the very long period of stoppage time without conceding. Cautious optimism is beginning to grow at the Madstad.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 12 days ago in the 2019/2020 season.