Reading FC Match Report: 2020/2021 Season - Championship


MILLWALL 1 READING 1

Reading: L Joao (53)
Millwall: J Wallace (45)

Both sides came in to this game without a win in four games so I suppose a draw was always going to be a likely outcome. Reading, on reflection, will be grateful to have ended a run of defeats, but I feel sure it was not the performance Veljko Paunovic was hoping for. After falling behind on the stroke of half time to a superb Jed Wallace free kick, Reading started the second half brightly and equalised after fifty-three minutes through leading scorer Joao. In a scrappy and open second half both teams had chances to win the game, but the quality of finishing was poor. In the end a draw was probably a fair result, and one which keeps Reading in the top six, which on current form is flattering to say the least.

Millwall, full of running, stifled Reading’s attempts to play their way through midfield and they were forced to play the ball long. With towering ex Royal Jake Cooper at the back, it was a tactic which failed to produce any real threat. Millwall enjoyed a fair amount of possession but their build up play was laboured and Reading contained their attack with relative ease. Reading produced some nice touches but failed to test Bialkowski. Cooper received a yellow card early in the game when he hauled down Meite. He was clearly not the last man, but the foul certainly denied Reading a scoring opportunity. The foul count was high, and the referee was making some very curious and poor decisions. Reading struggled to escape from their own half due to Millwall’s pressing and some poor passing. Just before the interval Andy Rinomhota tugged Parrott as he shot from outside the box, and from the resulting free kick Jed Wallace struck a sublime bending and dipping free kick past Raphael.

Reading responded positively after half time. Refreshed by the introduction of Olise, Reading attacked with greater pace and purpose and for the first time in the game put the Millwall defence under pressure. It took Reading eight minutes to equalise, and it was Olise who delivered the opportunity. His nicely weighted ball behind the Millwall defence was perfect for Joao to peel off the defender and race in to score through the ‘keeper’s legs. It was poor goalkeeping, but it could be argued the power of Joao’s close range strike gave him little time to react. Millwall came back strongly, and Holmes, who had been selected to replace Esteves, blocked a goal bound shoot from Williams. The young full back had a very solid game and looks certain to keep his place in the starting line up at the weekend.

The game suddenly became stretched and much more open with both sides fancying their chances of taking all three points. Cooper’s powerful downward header was well saved by Raphael, and the Reading ‘keeper did well to push over a Bodvarsson effort. Millwall should have taken the lead with under ten minutes remaining when Ryan Leonard came thundering unchallenged into the box and, with an open goal at his mercy, headed over from close range. It was a real let off for Reading. In stoppage time Jed Wallace was presented with a chance to wrap up the points when Bodvasson rolled an inviting pass across the box, but on the stretch, his effort was hit straight at Raphael. Then in the fifth minute of stoppage time Olise found Joao again inside the box, but on this occasion the big man dragged his shot wide. He did not need to be told he had wasted a decent chance to win the game.

Reading failed to win a game in November and their season is now beginning to take shape. We have seen enough to suggest they have potential to finish in the top half of the table, or possibly finish in the top six. Automatic promotion at this stage does not look likely, but it is still early days for Paunovic and he clearly know what he is about. The run of seven straight wins at the start of the season has raised expectations but, as we all know, it is hard to maintain that sort of level in the Championship. If you had told Reading fans in September their team would be in the top six by the end of November, most of them would have been more than happy.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 55 days ago in the 2020/2021 season.