Match Report: 2010/2011 Season

22 February 2011: CHAMPIONSHIP
Reading: Hunt (3 mins), Shane Long (55 mins). .
Millwall: Harris (46 mins).
Half Time: 1-0.

Attendance: 15,934

Pos Team P Pts GD
8 Hull 33 49 +5
9 READING 33 47 +12
10 Burnley 31 47 +9
Reading: A. McCarthy, M. Mills, A. Griffin, I. Ingimarsson, S. Cummings, J. McAnuff, M. Leigertwood, J. Tabb, J. Kebe, N. Hunt (S. Church, 80), S. Long. Subs not used: B. Howard, M. Andersen, Z. Khizanishvili, M. Antonio, H. Robson-Kanu.
Millwall: D. Forde, P. Robinson, T. Mkandawire, S. Barron (T. Craig, 63), A. Dunne, H. Bouazza (N. Harris, 46), N. Abdou (D. Purse, 75), J. Henry, C. Hackett, L. Trotter, S. Morison. Subs not used: S. Mildenhall, D. Ward, K. Lisbie, C. Eastmond.
Reading: Griffin, Kebe
Millwall: Mkandawire, Robinson
Ref: D Whitestone
Yet another fine finish from Shane Long was sufficient to secure Reading’s first win in seven league games. It was a goal worthy of winning any game. Jimmy Kebe confronted by two defenders out wide on the right rolled a pass back to Noel Hunt who swept in a good early ball. Long’s technique was perfect as he met the cross to volley the ball past the Millwall ‘keeper.

It was a game of fine examples of finishing. Reading got away to a flying start in the opening minutes when Long used his pace and strength to deliver a ball across the edge of the box for Hunt who to control and make space for a low strike into the corner of the net. The third goal was provided by half time substitute Neil Harris who, with virtually his first involvement in the game, took up a good position on the edge of the box and gave debutant McCarthy no chance with a venomous drive inside the far post for a deserved equaliser.

It was not the finest exhibition of football I have ever witnessed but it was nevertheless an absorbing game in many ways. Having started well Reading found themselves under considerable pressure from a well organised and physically superior Millwall side. The visitors were first to the ball and often used their strength, fairly, it has to be said, to dominate the play. Millwall were particularly dominant in the air all over the pitch and Mills and Ingimarsson were never allowed to win headers cleanly. Long as always battled away up front and Kebe did more than his usual share defensively but the Royals struggled to retain possession. Cummings had a good chance when he found himself in the box with a clear sight of goal. Unfortunately the ball fell to his left foot and he got slightly underneath the ball and it flew over the bar. McCarthy was not really tested but his distribution was not convincing and on one occasion Griffin clearly considered it safer to put the ball out of play when a back pass looked a reasonable option. As half time approached Reading were hanging on to their fragile lead. There were a few scares as Reading conceded free kicks and corners and the ball was not cleared but Millwall were unable to apply the finishing touch.

Millwall brought on Harris at half time and he made an immediate impact level the scores. At that point it Millwall looked the team most likely to go on to win the game but that was not how it worked out. Reading, inspired by a fairly prompt response from Long to restore the lead, raised their game. Liegertwood began to impose himself on the game and Reading began benefit from their blend of experience and youth. Griffin was looking comfortable at left back having switched to from his usual berth to accommodate Cummings. Tabb’s inclusion at the expense of Howard was also a good decision by Brian McDermott. His energy and commitment complemented the almost regal presence of Liegertwood in central midfield. I still worry about Mills’ hesitancy but he did make one particularly crucial and brave challenge to head clear in the first half.

Given Reading’s recent run of conceding late goals, they could be forgiven for trying to keep the ball in play down by the corner flag in stoppage time. It was nervous climax to the game for Reading fans not helped by the referee who for some reason allowed several fouls to unpunished as Reading tried to retain possession. The win keeps the Royal’s faint hopes of scraping into the play-offs alive.
John Wells

The first half was defensively woeful from the central pairing, and Griffin can take his share of the blame for the opener for completely misreading the initial cross. Then just a comedy of errors, ball falls to Weimann who iirc took two or three stabs at it before getting it right. Maybe Harte had a hand in the slashing, can't remember, although collectively the defence needs to take a look at themselves for that. Watford were so on top at that stage it was unreal, and their quite superb counter attack which led to Graham's header four or five minutes later was a joy - if Arsenal had done that against Barcelona everyone would be purring. The only thing missing was the finish. By the half hour mark we could and should have been two or three down, but then suddenly out of nothing Legs produces a moment of magic and has Loach scrambling, and the last ten were all Reading with decent attacking play and were a little unfortunate (only a little mind) not to go in level.

Second half, after their 'keeper's howler, well it just resorted to classic Reading v Watford midtable clash didn't it? A lot of huff and puff from both sides, again Reading were maybe a little unlucky not to nick a second but you always felt that Watford were capable of prising open our back four at any moment.
Handbags Harris

How on earth those defenders have maintained their places is beyond me. Mills trying an overhead clearance made it look like we were watching a circus display. He has no connection whatsoever with Ivar, who I'm sorry, but has completely passed it. Great servant to the club but times change and you have to put out your best 11. The funny thing is that we have a premiership centre back sitting on the bench week in week out who, is great in the tackle, brings the ball out of the defence, and hasn't put a step wrong apart from i think 1 dodgy pass back this season. I do hope McDermott now realises the errors in his backline and plays Zurab alongside a fit again Pearce.

Is it just me or are Reading looking jaded? The present constipated inability to win games despite the fact that they're there for the taking reminds me of the condition of the side in the second half of Coppell's last season. For this reason I'd like to see changes, but not, as has been suggested, blindly towards youth. Players who've been mainly out of the team might be given a run (Tabb, Pearce, Cummings) because they should be less jaded and more motivated, while some of our regulars might benefit from being rested rather than played into the ground. Just trotting out much the same lineup for a series of largely meaningless games would seem unhelpful to me. It's not often a manager has a chance to experiment with his team without too much risk. Some of the new boys--Manset, Williams, Morrison--might benefit from a run out too.

Got an opinion? E-Mail us at
Appropriate submissions will appear on match report pages

The result gives Reading their first Championship win in six, while Millwall - now with only one win in five - drop to 11th. It took the hosts only three minutes to seize the advantage, Long's industrious run leading to a cross which made its way to Hunt, who applied a cool finish. The visitors sounded their first warning soon after when former Reading man James Henry's right-footed corner found Tamika Mkandawire in space, but the imposing defender's header comfortably cleared the bar. It was not long before Henry was causing problems again for his old side with another set-piece delivery into the heart of the box which the Royals struggled to clear. Hamer Bouazza stole possession but his subsequent shot could not find a path through the crowded penalty area. Shaun Cummings then missed a glorious chance to double the hosts' lead just before the break when he blazed over from close range following good set-up play from Jobi McAnuff. The Lions were giving as good as they got but were almost punished for a lapse in concentration when McAnuff slipped in Andy Griffin down the flank, only for his cross to be taken by Millwall goalkeeper David Forde with a host of Reading players looking to pounce. Harris was introduced at the break and it took him only 30 seconds to make an impact. Abdou clipped the ball through for the veteran striker to volley across goal and into the far corner. The 33-year-old put an end to his run of 16 games without a goal when he netted against Middlesbrough at the weekend, and he was back in the thick of the action again moments later when Griffin had to get in a last-ditch block to deny him from close range. But with Millwall beginning to enjoy the ascendancy, Reading hit them with a swift counter-attack to reclaim the lead. Hunt swung in the cross and Long showed superb composure to drill it home from the edge of the box. Millwall continued to press for the equaliser, but Harris was frustrated by an offside flag when he appeared to be through on goal. Top scorer Steve Morison continued to assert his authority on the home side's defence with some good hold-up play but his lay-off for Liam Trotter proved wayward.
BBC Sport