Millwall pay the penalty at Reading and fall into drop zone

READING 3 MILLWALL 1
By Jake Sanders

Yakou Meite scored twice as Millwall slipped back into the relegation zone with a 3-1 defeat to Reading at the Madejski Stadium.

The Royals forward put his side in front on 28 minutes with a glancing header before Murray Wallace levelled just six minutes later. A controversial Sam Baldock penalty ensured the visitors went into half-time ahead before Meite sealed their victory four minutes from time.

Neil Harris named an unchanged starting line-up for the first time in nine games as his side went in search of just their third Championship victory of the campaign.

The visitors flew out of the blocks and had some wonderful chances to take the lead early on but found Reading shot-stopper Anssi Jaakkola in excellent form.

Jed Wallace was first to go close after some excellent interplay by Tom Elliott and Shane Ferguson, but the Lions winger couldn’t beat Jaakkola at his near-post when one-on-one.

Millwall continued to pile the pressure on the Reading goal and Jake Cooper should have marked his return to the Madejski with his first away league goal since March but his header was spectacularly kept out by Jaakkola after an inch-perfect Ryan Leonard cross from the right.

Despite those opportunities, it was Paul Clement’s men that could have broken the deadlock themselves. A cross from the right found its way to Liam Kelly but his powerful strike came back off the post before Mahlon Romeo produced a fantastic goal-saving block to deny Meite from the rebound.

Reading did eventually take the lead just before the half-hour mark. Tyler Blackett dug out a cross from the left and Meite climbed highest to head past Ben Amos into the far corner.

Gregory could have levelled immediately but the impressive Jaakkola blocked the striker’s effort. But, from the resulting corner, the Lions got the goal their excellent first-half display deserved as a loose ball found its way to Wallace, who was in the right place to coolly fire home, above.

Even though Harris’ men had totally dominated the half, it would be the hosts that would go into the break with a slender advantage. Mahlon Romeo brought down Blackett in the box and Baldock did the rest from 12 yards to put Reading back in front. The decision looked an extremely harsh one, which left Millwall players and staff furious.

The away side nearly made the perfect start to the second period, but Tom Elliott’s looping header could only click the top of the crossbar. Shaun Williams had a chance from the follow-up, but Reading survived, and their lead somehow stayed intact.

At the other end, the hosts had a great chance to extend their lead, but Amos stood tall to block Meite’s powerful effort when clean through.

Millwall continued to threaten and the Royals needed another sharp stop from Jaakkola to remain ahead. This time Ferguson’s ferocious volley was saved before Wallace headed over.

Aiden O’Brien replaced James Meredith and Steve Morison came on for Elliott as the Lions threw everything forward.

And Morison almost grabbed his first of the season just moments after his introduction. The 35-year-old brilliantly flicked Ferguson’s driven effort towards the far corner but Jaakkola was there again. The Lions captain also crashed a header onto the crossbar. It was the second time Millwall had struck the woodwork and the fourth time in their last three matches.

But just minutes later, the hosts made the points safe as Meite was left all alone at the back post to nod home Leandro Bacuna’s corner.

The result was Millwall’s seventh loss of the season and sees them slip into the bottom three ahead of two crucial home games against Wigan Athletic and Ipswich Town in the next seven days.

South London News