By Jake Sanders
Millwall made it back-to-back Championship away wins for the first time this season as an own-goal and Lee Gregory gave them a comfortable win at the Madejski Stadium.
Substitute Mahlon Romeo made an instant impact as Leandro Bacuna deflected his cross past Vito Mannone and then just three minutes later Lee Gregory rounded the Italian to double the Lions lead.
Reading rarely threatened and a Mo Barrow shot just after half-time was the closest they came to troubling the scoreboard.
Neil Harris made two changes from the side that drew with Derby County on Tuesday, handing Fred Onyedinma his first league start since New Year’s Day after an encouraging cameo against the Rams, in place of Shane Ferguson. Steve Morison returned to the side after missing the game midweek with illness. Deadline-day signing Ben Marshall was named among the substitutes.
Millwall made a bright start to the game and after a scrappy opening 10 minutes, they started to grab a foothold on it. Jed Wallace was finding space down both flanks and combined well with Onyedinma to carve out an opening for Gregory, but he could only prod over.
Onyedinma went even closer two minutes later as Vito Mannone spilled Wallace’s cross into his path but recovered well to block his close-range effort at the expense of a corner.
The visitors thought they had taken the lead not long after, but Gregory was in an offside position when he converted from Jake Cooper’s knock-down.
Chances continued to be created by the Lions with Onyedinma and Wallace at the heart of things. This time it was Onyedinma who found McLaughlin, he then played a one-two with Wallace, who beautifully flicked back into McLaughlin’s path, but Mannone was equal to his powerful volley.
The Lions were getting closer and on the stroke of half-time had their best opportunity. Wallace’s free-kick was headed back across goal by Steve Morison and into the danger-zone, but a combination of Mannone, the post and the Reading defence denied Millwall from going into the break a goal up.
Reading started the second-half in a much more positive manner and Jordan Archer had to make a sharp stop to deny Barrow after he skipped past McLaughlin and Wallace before striking across goal.
As a result of that chance, Harris introduced Romeo in place of McLaughlin, who had been struggling against the pacey Barrow.
It didn’t take Romeo long to make an impact as just 10 minutes after he was introduced he played a major part in giving Millwall the lead as his cross was turned into his own net by Bacuna, despite Mannone’s despairing dive.
Reading had barely recovered from that setback before the Lions doubled their lead. Morison found space on the right before playing a perfectly-timed pass for Gregory, who rounded Mannone and despite his touch taking him wide, kept his composure to slot home.
The home side had chances to reduce the deficit, but the Lions stood firm to made it six unbeaten in all competitions.