Lucas Joao’s 8th league goal of the season canceled out a superb Wallace free-kick as Millwall missed key opportunities to secure what would have been only a second league win at The Den.
The game was a battle of two of the league’s worst teams in the form book, with no wins in any of the last four games for either Reading or Millwall. As such it was no surprise to see a cagey start to the game.
Holmes had the first meaningful opportunity from an Ejaria free-kick, but couldn’t control his header from close range. Cooper, one of the league’s best aerial players, rose well from a Wallace free-kick at the other end but could only find Rafael.
Millwall grew into the game, and controlled most of the first half, using the flanks to good effect but were often unable to find the final delivery. Rinomhota and full-backs Richards and Holmes carried out a stellar job disrupting play and making life tricky for Millwall’s midfield.
However Reading offered incredibly little going forward, and just as they might have felt they’d gotten down the tunnel at 0-0 they were made to pay.
An incredibly soft foul was given on the edge of the Reading area, and when Jed Wallace stepped up everyone’s hearts were in mouths. With a wand of a right foot, Wallace found the top corner with Rafael rooted to the spot.
Harsh, perhaps, on a solid Reading defence – but only one team had bothered to attack since about the 15th minute.
Semedo was hauled off by Paunovic in favour of Olise at half time, and with good results.
After linking up well down the left to set up an Ejaria shot, Olise drifted to the right and found Joao with a great ball. Reading’s go-to forward drifted off the shoulder of Leonard to fire through Bialkowski’s legs at his near post.
Reading continued to control the play without creating much, but as the game entered the last quarter Millwall woke up. The introduction of ex-Reading Striker Jon Dadi Bodvarsson turned the tide and spelled the end of the Reading storm that Millwall had ridden.
Bodvarsson forced a strong save from Rafael to tip over after finding space in the box, and with ten minutes to go Bodvarsson’s knockdown gave Leonard a golden opportunity to take the lead. Unfortunately for the hosts, Leonard’s header from 6 yards out was just too high and gave Reading a massive reprieve.
The Icelandic international was again involved as the game entered injury time, breaking down the right and putting in a tasty delivery for the normally clinical Wallace, who could only divert the ball straight at Rafael from close range.
And with seconds left on the clock, Millwall were nearly made to pay. Olise found Joao in space on the right-hand side of the box, whose shot on the turn beat Bialkowski but bobbled only an inch or two past the far post.
A draw was possibly a fair result, and definitely a good one for Reading – but in all honesty, the chances to win the game fell to Millwall. The Lions should rue this as another two points dropped, for Reading respite from four successive defeats.