Reading: McCarthy; Gunter, Pearce, Gorkss, Obita; McCleary, Akpan (Taylor), Williams, McAnuff; Pogrebnyak (Blackman), Le Fondre (Robson-Kanu)
This could have been a tricky fixture for the Royals for a number of reasons. Ian Holloway is still getting used to life at the New Den, but with nearly a month under his belt he's finally starting to find his feet. Millwall had also only lost twice at home since the start of September. And with gales coming in from all four open corners of the ground, anything played through the air was subject to massive swerves. And the Lions started well without ever truly threatening Alex McCarthy in the Reading net.
DJ Campbell had one shot from about 12 yards which the Royals stopper had to palm away, Steve Morison fired high and wide from a corner, whilst Chris Gunter had to be alert to clear a ball which dropped inside the six-yard box with a couple of Millwall shirts waiting to slam home. But the Royals were carving chances of their own. Jordan Obita forced Stephen Bywater into a decent stop with a low free-kick, and Jobi McAnuff fired narrowly wide after being released by Pavel Pogrebnyak.
As mentioned, the wind was causing mayhem with anything hit though the air - McCarthy naturally shanked a couple of kick straight out of play, but he was hardly to blame. And whilst his errors with his feet cost the Royals possession, his counterpart in the Millwall net had one major mistake which gifted Reading the lead. Bywater went up to claim a high punt forward from Gunter, but couldn't secure the ball in his hands. It fell kindly to Pogrebnyak, who composed himself before slamming into an empty net from ten yards.
The Royals were now in control, as for all of Millwall's neat passing and possession football, they couldn't fashion a meaningful shot on goal to trouble McCarthy. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Anyway, Liam Feeney had the best chance of the second half for Millwall, but that was an effort from 20 yards which McCarthy comfortably got down to stop. Reading had the confidence, arrogance, and swagger to take the Lions to the sword, and they did so from a corner routine. McCleary headed back across goal, and Pogrebnyak rose highest to force Bywater into a save. Unfortunately for him again, it fell straight to a Reading player. This time, Alex Pearce drove home from a tight-ish angle to double the lead.
And when the luck goes your way, you feel unstoppable. Jobi McAnuff picked the ball up on the left wing and drove infield to find Danny Williams, who attempted to place his finish inside Bywater's left post. His shot deflected off two Millwall players and dropped conveniently back at his feet - and Williams made no mistake second time up to slow low past the Millwall keeper. McAnuff had a chance to complete the rout with a neat backheel but he was given offside after a couple of deflections, and the joyous Royals fans, in good heart all afternoon, had to settle for three goals.
But three points was the most important treble on the day. Reading are enjoying their football again and, though they had to weather a small storm at the start from Millwall's slick passing, the Lions never truly looked like scoring. Confidence is there and risks are being taken, which leads to far more chances than the Royals ever created towards the start of the season. Three wins in four is nothing new for Royals fans, but the performances are finally coming together as well, which is the most satisfying thing about following Reading at the moment. The acid test comes in two weeks against QPR, but nobody will want to face us in our current form.