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16:59 6th August 2011

Report: Manset heroics earn a point

Reading 2 (Manset 85, 89)
Millwall 2 (Henderson 48, Marquis 61)

Two late, late goals from substitute Mathieu Manset gave Reading a 2-2 draw at home to Millwall in this first game of the new season.

Millwall led 2-0 with five minutes to go, and the game may have looked out of reach but Manset's heroics typified the character in our team.

We were well on top in the first half and almost scored after ten seconds but could not get the goal our play deserved; then the visitors started the second half the brighter of the two teams and Darius Henderson nodded home a James Henry cross from close range.

We responded well and Shane Long hit the bar, but John Marquis scored a sucker punch to make it 2-0.

Jobi McAnuff then hit the post and Marquis missed a sitter; we might have looked out of it to the neutral but Reading fans know better than that.

Manset's first was a great strike, and he then nodded home a superb Jimmy Kebe cross.

Millwall almost nicked a late winner but a draw was a fair result, and a crowd of 18,531 had seen a very good afternoon's entertainment.

Reading (4-4-2): Federici; Griffin, Harte, Khumalo, Pearce; Karacan (Robson-Kanu 68), Leigertwood, Kebe, McAnuff (c); Hunt (Manset 68), Long
Subs: McCarthy, Gunnarsson, Obita
Booked: Pearce (foul 90)

Millwall (4-4-2): Forde; Dunne, Craig, Robinson (c), Ward; Mkandawire, Trotter (Barron 68), Henry (Hackett 79), Bouazza; Henderson, Marquis (Abdou 86)
Subs: Mildenhall, Racon
Booked: Dunne (foul 18), Henderson (foul 43), Marquis (foul 55), Barron (foul 75)

Attendance: 18,531 (2,235 away)

Ref: A Bates

Starting XI team news
Bongani Khumalo was handed a first start for the club at centre half, with Noel Hunt & Mikele Leigertwood shrugging off knocks to take their places in the starting XI. 17-year-old Jordan Obita was named on the bench, while Simon Church, Shaun Cummings & Marcus Williams were injured and Jay Tabb suspended.

First half
Reading had a sight of goal within the first ten seconds of the new season, and Noel Hunt got a decent left-foot strike away but 'keeper David Forde was on hand to stop it with his leg.

Reading started superbly and only two minutes later they had another effort, Jimmy Kebe sidefooting wide at the back post after darting onto a cross.

It was an excellent spectacle, and Millwall's Liam Trotter tried his luck with a couple of efforts wide of the mark, easily seen by Adam Federici.

Reading continued to pile on the pressure, and new skipper Jobi McAnuff had a shot blocked after excellent Royal possession, and Kebe hit the post on the follow-up but was given offside anyway.

As the half time whistle came closer, Millwall found more of a foothold, but it was Reading who went into the interval as the happier of the teams.

Second half
It was the visitors who started the second period with a spring in their step, and it took an excellent Federici save to keep out James Henry's well-hit drive. Our 'keeper also kept out the rebound, despite Millwall's man being well offside.

But the Lions did soon have the lead, Henry popping up on the left wing and standing up a cross that found Darius Henderson in real space and he did the rest with a neat header from six yards.

Reading responded well, and Shane Long's effort hit the top of the bar after an excellent turn and shot outside the area.

Kebe was then inches away from finding Hunt with a drilled low cross, and we were left to rue that close call as Millwall then hit us with a sucker punch.

Kenny Jackett's men got forward and put in a right wing cross that Federici had to palm away on the stretch, and there was nothing more he could have done as John Marquis got onto the dropping ball and headed home at the back post.

Reading responded with a double substitution, Mathieu Manset and Hal Robson-Kanu on for Hunt and Jem Karacan.

Marquis had a glorious chance to score but was thwarted by Federici, and then McAnuff hit a superb effort that had Forde well beaten but came crashing back off the post.

With four minutes to go Manset showed superb ability to turn a couple of Millwall defenders and smack home a great effort from 25 yards and Reading pushed valiantly for another.

The leveller did come from the same source, and Kebe's superb cross was headed in by Manset.

Into the five minutes of injury time Millwall nearly scored through Henderson as he was inches from a low cross, then sub Scott Barron forced Federici into another very good save.

A draw was fair in the end - Reading had more of the play but Millwall had some good chances and as the away team will be happy with their display. In front of a good crowd it was an excellent spectacle, and although we'd obviously rather have won, it was a positive way to begin the season.

Highlights on Reading FC Player from Sunday afternoon.

    Data provided by Press Association