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21:55 22nd February 2011

Report: Irish duo win it for Royals

Reading 2 (Hunt 3, Long 54)
Millwall 1 (Harris 46)

Reading took a very welcome 2-1 victory thanks to a goal in each half from our all-Irish strike partnership.

Noel Hunt scored very early on from Shane Long's cross, and Long then scored in the second half from Hunt's great cross to seal a welcome three points.

In between our goals Neil Harris scored for the visitors, but Reading were the better side and deserved to win, attacking well and defending resolutely when called upon.

Alex McCarthy was rarely tested in the home goal on his full Reading debut, and looked comfortable whenever needed. Shaun Cummings also deserves a mention for putting in another very accomplished performance at right back.

Long was absolutely superb, and is clearly in the form of his life, aided expertly by his pal Hunt. They have now scored 16 goals in the 13 games they've started together this season, an excellent record and the win allows us to start looking up the table once again as we move into ninth position.

Reading (4-4-2): McCarthy; Cummings, Griffin, Ingimarsson, Mills (c); Leigertwood, Tabb, Kebe, McAnuff; Hunt (Church 80), Long
Subs: Andersen, Khizanishvili, Howard, Antonio, Robson-Kanu, B Williams
Booked: Kebe (dissent 67), Griffin (dissent 90)

Millwall (4-4-1-1): Forde; Dunne, Barron (Craig 63), Mkandawire, Robinson (c); Abdou (Purse 75), Trotter, Henry, Hackett; Bouazza (Harris HT); Morison
Subs: Mildenhall, Ward, Eastmond, Lisbie
Booked: Robinson (foul 38), Mkandawire (foul 86)

Attendance: 15,934 (1,592 away)

Ref: D Whitestone

Starting XI team news
Reading made three changes, bringing in Alex McCarthy, Shaun Cummings and Jay Tabb for Adam Federici, Ian Harte and Brian Howard. Cummings started at right back, Andy Griffin moving to left back. Young striker Brett Williams was on the bench for the first time.

First half
Reading made the perfect start, and our all-Irish front two combined for an excellent goal. Mikele Leigertwood started the move by winning the ball back, then Jobi McAnuff found Shane Long. He had plenty to do, but left Millwall skipper Paul Robinson for dead with his sheer pace. He crossed for Noel Hunt, who took a touch and finished very well. It was not an easy chance but he scored with aplomb.

Reading were well on top, and it took six and a half minutes for Alex McCarthy to get his first touch, a comforting claim 12 yards out.

It took Millwall 20 minutes to get near our goal, Tamika Mkandawire heading over and Hameur Bouazza missing his kick. Steve Morison then had a sniff from a corner but his effort was probably going wide, Long clearing just in case.

On 25 minutes the visitors whipped in a dangerous free kick that evaded everyone in our area but went wide of the upright. Morison then headed wide and Matt Mills got in a vital header as the Lions enjoyed a decent spell.

Jay Tabb then hooked a tough chance over the bar down the other end, before Shaun Cummings got forward into a great position and will have been disappointed to shoot over from McAnuff's neat pass.

His fellow full back Andy Griffin then got forward well but his cross was cut out, then former Reading man James Henry gave McCarthy a simple save from distance.

Second half
Millwall brought on Neil Harris at half time, and incredibly he had scored within 30 seconds of his introduction. He found a shooting opportunity out wide, and smacked home an excellent finish on the angle; McCarthy no chance as it flew in.

He nearly got another chance three minutes later, but Griffin got in a wonderful block on the veteran striker.

Millwall were not level for long though, and again our all-Irish strike partnership provided the goods. Hunt got in a great cross from the right, and Long produced a fantastic volley to make it 2-1. It was a great finish, the Irishman made it look easy when it was a tough chance. If proof was needed that he's in the form of his life, this goal was it.

Reading then enjoyed decent possession and Millwall needed a brilliant challenge from Jimmy Abdou to keep Long from scoring his second and our third.

We kept the visitors at arms' length, and more brilliance from Long saw us win good possession late on, then Leigertwood nearly scored but David Forde grabbed at the second attempt.

We saw the game out expertly, Long leading the line very well and Leigertwood bossing the midfield. Every player played their part and the atmosphere at full time was one to saviour as we celebrated a win that was long overdue.

    Data provided by Press Association