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Reading FC 3-2 Millwall: Cox Double Sinks Lions

A brace from Simon Cox and a Nick Blackman penalty saw the Royals escape with victory against the Lions, who battled back from a two goal deficit only to concede late on. It wasn't pretty but Reading came away with three points - here's our full report.

Ben Hoskins

Federici; Gunter, Hector, Pearce, Obita; Akpan (Edwards 77), Norwood; Mackie (Taylor 69), Cox, Blackman (Cooper 86); Murray

For the first fifteen minutes, Reading looked a class above, and aside from an early Ricardo Fuller header stinging the palms of Adam Federici, it was all Royals pressure. Five minutes in, a Millwall corner was collected and cleared long by Federici towards Simon Cox. The striker controlled just inside the Lions' half, took it past two defenders and fired home low from 25 yards past David Forde.

It could have been worse for Millwall five minutes later, as Glenn Murray tried to add to his debut brace with a left-footed shot from the corner of the six yard box which flew wide. Then Nick Blackman laid out wide to Jordan Obita, whose devilish cross was met by Murray before Forde, but this time his effort went over. But Blackman would create and score the second for Reading as his direct run into the box saw him clipped by Byron Webster - he was up straight away to collect the ball and calmly send Forde the wrong way from the spot.

The first signs of the Lions coming back into the game were seen on the left flank, as Scott Malone collected a raking ball from right-back and sprinted past Chris Gunter - his shot was saved low by Federici, who was alert to divert Fred Onyendima's follow-up for a corner. Ian Holloway had seen enough after twenty-five minutes to take off Webster for Martyn Woolford, and it instantly seemed to stifle the Royals' play as Millwall started to dominate the game.

Gunter was being targeted by the Lions, and Onyedinma got in behind the right-back to drill a low cross in but Obita cleared before it could be tapped in. But third time lucky for the tactic, as Malone picked up another cross-field pass, Gunter stood off, and the Lions left-back passed inside to Fuller who curled home from the top of the box. Two minutes later he could have levelled the game with a powerful effort which had Federici diving to divert over, and then Onyendima took advantage of a Michael Hector slip in the box in first-half injury time, but again Federici made the stop from point blank range. The Royals held the lead at the break, but the Lions were building up a head of steam.

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The first chance in the second half saw Jamie Mackie fire in a low cross from the right wing, but Glenn Murray couldn't quite stretch far enough to get there. 3-1 it could have been, but 2-2 it was just before the hour mark. Hector gave away a needless foul on Fuller near the corner flag, and Woolford swung in a left-footed curler. Federici came to claim, but missed the ball, and Mark Beevers had the simplest of jobs in heading into an empty net.

Possession was all for the men in yellow, with only sporadic counter-attacks showcasing any Reading threat. Cox drilled a through ball to Murray who seemed not to trust his pace, instead firing into a defender from outside the box when bearing down on goal. It should be said that for all Millwall's possession, they didn't create too many clear-cut chances - Ed Upson stung the palms of Federici with a 25 yarder which was straight at the Aussie keeper. They came closest to going in front when Michael Hector dallied with a backpass and fired into Onyedinma - luckily, the "chance" fell wide.

And with around five minutes of normal time left, the Royals won a corner on the right-hand side after some decent buiild up play. Obita swung it in to the near post, Blackman flicked on, and Cox headed in at the back stick to give the Royals the lead again. Adkins sent on Jake Cooper for Blackman, and it was clear Reading were shutting up shop - Woolford had the chance to fully justify Holloway's early switch with a curled effort from 25 yards which just went wide of Federici's goal. The Royals held on through injury time, and though it wasn't pretty, the three points stayed in Berkshire.

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A tale of two halves - although to be honest, they weren't equal halves at all, with the introduction of Woolford after 25 minutes completely changing the game. In the first quarter of an hour, Reading controlled the match and created four clear-cut chances - the two goals, and what could have been another brace for Murray. But after the sub, it was all change, as Millwall dominated possession without having many chances to go with it, much to the eventual relief of Reading.

Once the formation changed and the new Lions tactics were employed, there was no time on the ball for Reading's midfield who were closed down instantly, and the only tactic was to lump it long. Where one-twos were so crisp and accurate early on, they failed later, perhaps due to pressure but also due to the fact that they weren't in the ascendancy.

It was frustrating to watch, and had the final result been a draw, that frustration would have been even more audible heading into injury time and on the final whistle. But instead, Cox grabbed his second of the game (after his extremely well-taken first), and exasperation was replaced with delight. Millwall didn't have too many chances to win it themselves, but the manner of the play and the lack of ideas - especially after such a good first twenty minutes - is what was most worrying.

Still, it's four wins in a row now in all competitions, so there's not too much room for negativity! We're grinding out results and as long as we keep confidence up (and accumulate points, of course), this season could turn out a lot better than many of us feared. Nigel Adkins is finally starting to get his ideas and style through on the pitch, with the signings he's made. Once that injury list clears up, he'll have some difficult decisions to make.