It was another day where Millwall were left scratching their heads.
They dominated almost every statistic apart from the one that counts and that’s exactly why they left the Madejski empty-handed. They had almost three times the number of attempts on goal as their opponents (27).
Twelve of those were on target, but the visitors were only able to find the back of the Reading net just once on what proved to be another frustrating afternoon for the Bermondsey side.
Paul Clement’s men were clinical, Millwall weren’t, it was that simple. Royals goalkeeper Anssi Jaakkola made 11 saves, Ben Amos just the one.
Despite all of that goal-mouth action, it was a controversial decision in added time at the end of the first-half that swung the contest in favour of the hosts.
But in truth, if the Lions’ finishing was even marginally better, Mahlon Romeo’s foul on Tyler Blackett would have proved numerical.
The right-back was harshly penalised and conceded a penalty, the third Millwall have seen go against them in the last four games. Amos was unable to repeat his heroics against Sheffield United and Reading retook the lead.
Prior to that, it was one-way traffic during the opening 20 minutes.
Jed Wallace and Jake Cooper missed the best of a handful of chances for Neil Harris men.
Jaakkola saved well from the former after some excellent interchanging play involving Shane Ferguson and Tom Elliott before the Finland international somehow kept out the latter’s header when it looked easier to score.
If it was a boxing match, it would have been stopped. But to the shock of almost everyone inside the Madjeski Stadium, it was Reading that broke the deadlock, totally against the run of play.
And in that moment, it summed up Millwall’s season. It was one of Reading’s first attacks of the game.
Blackett was once more at the heart of things, with Yakou Meite the benefiter, heading past Amos into the far corner.
But by the time Paul Clement’s team had finished celebrating, Murray Wallace had helped himself to his second goal of the season, lashing home from close-range to restore parity.
It looked as if Millwall would get to half-time on level terms be given every chance of claiming their first victory on the road since April. But as the half drew to a close, the game’s controversial moment took place.
Romeo produced what looked like a perfectly-timed challenge on the former Manchester United defender and most of the 1,900 or so travelling fans applauded what they thought was an excellent piece of defending.
David Webb had different ideas and pointed to the spot. To add insult to injury, the Antigua and Barbuda international was booked.
He walked away in disbelief, almost giggling to himself at what had just happened.
Baldock did the rest from 12-yards and ensured the Royals went into the break ahead and from that moment on, the Lions were facing up uphill battle.
Webb left the pitch to boos from the travelling contingent, while the Millwall players departed with dejected looks on their faces.
The points were made safe four minutes from time as Meite put the final nail in the Millwall coffin, nodding home his second and Reading’s third.
But Harris’ side have little time to dwell on this result as they host Wigan Athletic at The Den tonight, looking to record consecutive home league victories for the first time since April.
Three points this evening could set the foundations, especially with Ipswich Town – who currently sit bottom – visiting South London this coming Saturday, in what could prove to be a key period for Harris and his players.
Millwall: Amos (6), Romeo (6), M Wallace (7), Cooper (6), Meredith (5) (O’Brien), J. Wallace (6), Williams (5) Leonard (6) (Bradshaw), Ferguson (6), Elliott (6) (Morison), Gregory (6). Subs: Archer, Hutchinson, Tunnicliffe, Skalak