Royals continue good form with Millwall victory
The New Den
Saturday 1st February 2014
Reading continued their good goal scoring and winning form, as they were comfortable 3-0 winners away to Millwall at the New Den.
Royals boss Nigel Adkins named an unchanged team for the fifth game in a row, which has rightly been linked to our good recent form, winning three of the four games coming into this one. We had been scoring the goals for fun on our home turf, but it was taking it away from the Madejski that appears to be the problem - this game at Millwall crossed that concern off the list.
The home side were very bright in the first twenty minutes, as Reading struggled to find any rhythm in the game in the early stages. McCarthy was called into action within the first five minutes, as DJ Campbell attacked a bouncing ball in the box, but the keeper made a smart save to keep him out from ten yards. Millwall were finding space on the wings, but not taking full advantage.
Skipper Jobi McAnuff had Reading`s first notable effort of the game, as he found space on the left and cut inside, but his cross-goal effort trickled wide of the post. Steve Morison attempted an audacious volley soon after, but the on-loan Leeds striker put his effort over the bar. It was a good start from Ian Holloway`s side, who seemed to want it more than the Royals in the opening exchanges.
We soon grew into the game though, as Jordan Obita forced a good save from Bywater from a free kick, putting his effort across the keeper, rather than bending it over the wall. An injury to Hope Akpan was a disappointment, meaning the youthful Jake Taylor came on in his place, but certainly didn`t do himself a discredit, coping with the physical demands of a good Championship game.
Adam le Fondre would have wanted to prove that he could perform his home heroics away from Berkshire and almost did so, as McCleary`s clever run allowed the striker space at goal, but from an awkward angle, put his effort wide. A breakthrough was to come for us though, as Bywater was challenged by Alfie and dropped the ball to Pogrebnyak, who outsmarted Shittu, before firing the ball into the net.
The Lions started the game well, but Reading came back into it and got the goal just before half time, which proved crucial. Adkins` side now looked full of life and wanted to add another before half time and came within inches of doing so, after good work from Obita on the left, he crossed dangerously into the middle, but Le Fondre`s flicked header didn`t have enough power on it to take it into the net.
The first notable chance of the second period fell to the home side, as Williams lost possession and Feeney was set through down the right wing, but with Obita firmly on his heels, had an effort which was comfortably gathered by McCarthy. Ian Holloway made some early substitutions in an effort to go for the game, ending up having four strikers on the field, but was this his eventual downfall?
Reading were building good pressure and keeping good possession, before a second goal came, which effectively killed the game for the hosts. A corner from McAnuff was recycled at the back post by McCleary and Pog forced a superb save out of Bywater, but defender Alex Pearce was on hand to thump in the follow up from five yards, which cued another one of his ridiculous celebrations!
Millwall couldn`t create any openings, as the Royals were standing firm and made sure the points were going back to Berkshire just minutes later with a third goal. McAnuff again was at the heart of it, as he drove past his man on the left side and squared for Danny Williams to have an effort at goal, with the original one being blocked, but tucked away the follow up with a good finish.
It was the American midfielder`s first goal for Reading and a deserved one too, after some fantastic performances in recent games. The Lions looked firmly tamed after the third goal and Adkins` men looked adamant to add to the scoreline. McAnuff almost got his first goal of the season too, as he was fed square by substitute Hal Robson-Kanu, but was thwarted by Bywater, who made a good stop.
Williams was very close to getting a second goal and this one was probably an easier chance than his first, after a deflected effort fell kindly into his path, but Bywater blocked his effort. Alex McCarthy was having a relatively quiet half, but was forced into action into injury time, as Shaun Williams` free kick was heading goalwards. It was the last action of the game, in a victory that was well-deserved.
Another good victory and even more sweet the fact that it was away from home. We still currently sit in sixth place, but a slight gap is forming between us and seventh. However, we shouldn`t be focusing on anyone else and just keep playing how we are and see where it takes us. Obviously play offs is the expectation, but can we go one better? It will be very tough, but you never know!
Millwall - 4-4-2: Bywater, Fredericks, Beevers, Shittu, Malone, Feeney, Williams, Wright, Woolford, Morison, Campbell
Subs: Gerrer, Robinson, Dunne, Abdou, Martin, Easter, Marquis
Reading - 4-4-2: McCarthy, Gunter, Pearce, Gorkss, Obita, McCleary, Akpan, Williams, McAnuff, Pogrebnyak, Le Fondre
Subs: Federici, Hector, Kelly, J.Taylor, Drenthe, Robson-Kanu, Blackman