Cox scores winner in five-goal thriller
Tuesday 16th September 2014
Simon Cox's late header gave Reading a fourth straight victory, in a very exciting 3-2 win over a resolute Millwall side, at the Madejski Stadium on Tuesday night.
Royals boss Nigel Adkins just made one change to the side that comfortably beat Fulham 3-0 on Saturday, with goalscorer Nick Blackman coming in from the start, in place of Jake Taylor. It was a bright start to the game from the visitors Millwall, who forced a very good early save out of Adam Federici, as Ricardo Fuller connected with Onyedinma`s looping cross, but the Australian did well to tip over his crossbar.
From the resulting corner, the Royals cleared the ball up field to Simon Cox, who displayed a good first touch and strength to turn his man, nutmeg a defender, before expertly placing the ball into corner past David Forde. Murray was looking lively also, after a dream debut on Saturday and had two good chances in quick succession - dragging a left-footed just wide in the area and heading over from an Obita cross.
We were looking threatening every time we went forward, seemingly targeting the right-side of the Millwall defence, which again proved their downfall. Nick Blackman received the ball in space on the left-wing, dodging a few challenges, before being brought down by a Millwall defender in the area. The referee Keith Hill rightly pointed to the penalty spot and the ever-improving front man scored from twelve yards.
Ian Holloway`s side did respond well following this second set back though and would have been back in contention if it wasn`t from some goalkeeping heroics from Federici. Gunter was undone on the right-side by a deceiving first touch from Scott Malone, but Federici blocked his low effort, before recovering superbly to tip over Scott McDonald`s rebound - a piece of sublime goalkeeping from the Aussie.
The Millwall boss soon shifted his side about, bringing on Martyn Woolford for defender Byron Webster, as Carlos Edwards reverted back to right-back. It seemed an inspired substitution from Holloway, as his side were gaining real momentum. Woolford managed to get a shot away on his weaker right-side, but was easy for Federici to gather. It was clear we needed half-time soon, as it was getting rather rash.
The away side did get a goal back five minutes before the break though and you couldn`t argue it wasn`t deserved. Millwall were attempting to exploit Gunter again, as Malone cut inside his man before finding the feet of Ricardo Fuller, who turned and finished precisely into the bottom corner. Fuller nearly put his side level though, as his half-volley from the edge of the area was palmed over by the busy Federici.
Norwood wasn`t having the same influence he had against Fulham on Saturday, but played the best ball of the game in the second half, finding Jamie Mackie in space on the right side, before dragging a shot wide, which Murray very nearly got on the end of. This rare chance would come against the run of play though, as Millwall pushed for an equaliser at the Madejski and got just that, ten minutes into the second period.
Millwall earned a free-kick by the corner flag, which Woolford looped into the far post and was missed by the approaching Adam Federici. This allowed Mark Beevers to head into an empty net, to give the visitors a priceless equaliser, which they arguably deserved. We couldn`t forge any opening through the middle, so our attacking threat came from out wide, but Forde was claiming the majority of crosses.
The luckless Murray very nearly found an opening on the break, as he was fed in by Simon Cox, but as he has faced up by two defenders, opted to shoot and was blocked away, rather than holding it up. Federici soon atoned for his earlier error though, as firstly he cleared up from Hector`s indecisiveness, before putting his handling to good use soon after, by stopping a firm strike from substitute Ed Upson.
It was clear that both sides were pushing for all three points. Gunter nearly found Murray with a near post cross, but from the resulting corner, we found a priceless winner with six minutes left to play. Jordan Obita`s corner was under hit, but allowed Jake Taylor to flick it on cleverly to the back post, where Simon Cox was lurking and managed to nod home from a few yards to put the Royals back in front.
Adkins threw on Jake Cooper for the closing stages to deal with anything thrown into the area, but despite having a shaky moment, we managed to see the game through. It was a game which we may not have deserved to win, but we showed great character to come through nonetheless. It`s a fourth win on the bounce in all competitions, but now we face a tough test on the road at Sheffield Wednesday, this Saturday.
Reading - 4-2-3-1: Federici; Gunter, Pearce, Hector, Obita; Akpan, Norwood; Mackie, Cox, Blackman; Murray.
Subs: Andersen, Cooper, Long, Kuhl, Taylor, Edwards, Pogrebnyak.
Millwall - 4-4-1-1: Forde; Dunne, Webster, Beevers, Malone; Edwards, Chaplow, Abdou, Onyedinma; McDonald; Fuller.
Subs: King, Briggs, Upson, Woolford, Gueye, Easter, Ranegie.