Excellent goalkeeping at both ends of the pitch ensured Reading and Millwall played out a 0-0 draw in south London this Tuesday evening.
Both 'keepers made top class saves, Adam Federici
denying Steve Morison on twice in the first half. Home 'keeper David Forde made a fantastic point blank save from Shane Long in the second half, and tipped a thunderous Jem Karacan effort onto the post soon afterwards.
Matt Mills was excellent at the back, and we worked hard to earn a point, denying a side unbeaten in 20 games at the New Den. We also looked a touch unfortunate to have a goal disallowed for offside, while home skipper Paul Robinson could possibly have been sent off when pulling Long back as he went through on goal.
We had lined up 4-4-2 from the off in an attempt to win the game, and in picking up a point we denied the Lions an eighth straight win at home. We are now unbeaten in five games in the League, and can be pleased with a draw against a very competitive side.
Reading (4-4-2): Federici; Cummings (Antonio 82), Harte, Mills (c), Pearce; Karacan, Howard, Kebe, McAnuff; Church (Hunt 75), Long
Subs: McCarthy, Williams, Khizanishvili, Gunnarsson, Robson-Kanu
Booked: Long (dissent 14), Harte (foul 34), Kebe (dissent 73)
Millwall (4-4-2): Forde; Dunne, Barron, P Robinson (c), Ward; Abdou, Mkandawire, Henry, Schofield; Lisbie (Harris 73), Morison
Subs: Mildenhall, Hackett, Craig, Smith, Laird, T Robinson
Booked: P Robinson (foul 9), Morison (dissent 88)
Attendance: 11,061 (816 away)
Ref: D Phillips Starting XI team news
Reading switched to a 4-4-2 formation, bringing in Simon Church for Brynjar Gunnarsson, who was named as a sub. Millwall had former Reading man James Henry in their starting XI, while veteran frontman Neil Harris dropped to the bench.First half
Despite torrential rain the game started at a good pace, with Jobi McAnuff and Tamika Mkandawire both shooting over inside the first five minutes. Millwall's Jimmy Abdou then spurned a great chance with a header, but he was given offside anyway.
With nine minutes on the clock home captain Paul Robinson was arguably fortunate not to be sent off. Reading won possession in a dangerous area, and Shane Long was put through, darting in from the left channel. Robinson clearly pulled our Irish striker back, but referee Dave Phillips only produced a yellow card despite Long having a clear run at goal. A red card would not have been harsh - but it was maybe a little too far out and a little too early in the game to force him to send Robinson off.
Former Reading man James Henry then shot a free kick miles over, then Welsh international striker Steve Morison went on an excellent run down the left, forcing Adam Federici
into a decent save.
It was an entertaining game, and Millwall upped the tempo with a good break, Jimmy Kebe doing very well to avert the danger. From the resulting corner the ball pinballed around the six yard box, and thankfully Robinson was unable to react quickly enough and stabbed wide from six yards.
As the game hit the half hour mark Reading had a goal disallowed for offside and it looked very tight indeed. McAnuff delivered a great cross from the right, and the flag seemed to go up just as Long tried to get his head on it. The Irishman left it for Kebe, who finished with aplomb, and it looked a very close decision against the Malian as he stabbed home a sidefoot volley.
It was a cracking game, and Long was desperately close to pouncing on a poor touch inside the Millwall six yard box. The Lions broke very quickly, and the dangerous Morison forced Federici into a top class stop.
As half time approached it continued to be end to end, and Millwall somehow got away with some more slack defending and managed to hack clear despite Reading looking certain to score. Immediately the home side broke, and Matt Mills did well to deny Morison.
Right on half time Federici made yet another important save of the highest order. Morison burst through thanks to his sheer pace, but our Australian stood up well and denied him from the one on one; a great stop.Second half
The period started with Henry getting a couple of dangerous crosses in, Federici then making a routine stop from the winger's long range effort. A loose touch from McAnuff then presented the home side with a chance but Mills defended well to get a block in. Veteran defender Darren Ward had a decent chance from a corner on 55 minutes, but badly miscued a left footed effort on the bounce.
Soon it was Millwall keeper David Forde's turn to pull off a cracking save, keeping out Long's header at point blank range after McAnuff did exceptionally well to get a cross in to the back post. Long looked destined to score but the home 'keeper denied him with a Schmeichel-style block.
Mills then did well to keep out Millwall again, before Kebe was sent on a break by an excellent Brian Howard pass; only for the Malian's pass to Jem Karacan to be just too far behind him to get a shot away; a decent opportunity spurned.
Some Kebe brilliance then gave Howard a shooting chance, but it was a tough opportunity and Forde gathered at the second attempt. Danny Schofield then curled one wide for the home side and the action continued apace.
Former Millwall man Karcan was then desperately close to breaking the deadlock, hitting a thunderous drive that Forde tipped onto the post quite superbly. It was a rasping effort from our midfielder and the save was again of the highest order.
Credit must also go to Mills, who put in a quite superb tackle to spring the attack. The home side then nearly pounced on an Alex Pearce miskick inside the box, but Mills, not for the first time, was in an excellent position to avert the danger.
Both sides were desperate to win it late on, and only some excellent defending from Alan Dunne kept Kebe at bay.
So the final whistle came and both sides will have been pleased with how they played. It was a game with two sides in good form, and but for the excellence of both keepers that good play would have resulted in goals.