Reading FC Match Report: 2017/2018 Season - League Cup
READING 3 MILLWALL 1
Reading: L Bacuna (34), G Evans (105), S Smith (116)
Millwall: S Ferguson (37)
Full Time: 1-1. Reading win 3-1 after extra time
Reading finally overcame a Millwall side offering little more than stubborn resistance with goals in extra time from George Evans and Sam Smith to reach the Third Round of the EFL Cup. Reading dominated possession in the first half, taking the lead through a stunning goal from Bacuna making his home debut, only to concede an equaliser within minutes. The game opened up in the second half with Reading creating more scoring opportunities than their opponents but were frustrated by some wayward shooting. The introduction of Barrow and Clement from the bench in the second half gave the Royals a more of a cutting edge but nobody was able to find the composure to provide the finish. Reading took control of the game in extra time and after re-taking the lead inevitably ran out comfortable winners in the end.
With Swift, Kelly and Van den Berg missing, Evans and Quinn were drafted in to anchor a midfield leaving Bacuna to probe forward in free role. Reading started on the front foot as Millwall stood off and allowed them to play their passing game. Popa was lively and energetic on the left flank but was contained well by the visitors. McCleary, playing wide on the right, was increasingly ineffective and was replaced at half time by Clement. For all their possession, Reading were unable to muster a shot on target for some time. There appeared to be a reluctance to shoot from distance until on thirty three minutes Bacuna gave Reading the lead with a stunning piece of individual skill. A sharp turn of pace gave him a sight of goal just outside the box and he fired home with a superb strike to give Reading a deserved lead. It did not last long. Millwall hit back immediately. Butcher ‘s effort was pushed away for a corner by Jaakkola. Reading failed to deal with the corner and the ball dropped to Ferguson. Gunter surprisingly decided not to close him down and Ferguson took full advantage of the time and space on offer to beat Jaakkola inside the far post.
Millwall came out after the interval in a more positive mood, pressed Reading higher up the pitch, and were more committed to penetrating the Reading defence. With Clement replacing McCleary Reading moved the ball around with greater fluency and urgency and Popa, Evans, Gunter and Quinn all had half chances to regain the lead but the quality of finishing was below par. Barrow replaced Quinn, who had a very solid game, to inject a bit of pace in to the attack down the right and immediately caused panic in the visitors defence. Still Reading were unable to find the finish to several promising moves and the game went into extra time. Evans having played very deep for most of the game began to move forward and in the final minute of the first half of extra time he sent Reading on their way into the next round with an exquisite curling shot from outside the box. It was a rare moment of quality in stream of wildly inaccurate attempts from distance. Reading fans sang incessantly in celebration for the last fifteen minutes. Four minutes from the end of extra time Smith chased down a long clearance and with the last few ounces of remaining energy, held off a challenge, kept his head and fired home to put Millwall out of their misery. The young forward had battled all evening and made some good runs although in truth had made little impact, but for sheer effort and commitment alone he thoroughly deserved his goal.
It was typical, almost traditional, August evening fixture. A slightly under strength Reading playing against struggling or lower league opponents, but overall it was a good evening for the Royals. A fairly decent crowd, a good atmosphere, some very good goals and a morale boosting win. With so many key players injured it was ideal to give some other players in the squad some time on the pitch. There are a lot of very good players in the current squad but the team desperately needs Kermorgant and Bodvarsson back soon to provide more potency in attack.
This League Cup game took place 113 days ago in the 2017/2018 season.