Still positive signs from Reading, but really this should have been 3 points taken back to the Madjeski as shown in Clarke's visible disappointment at the end of the game.
The game stuttered into life when Diego Fabbrini, the on-loan Watford winger, looked to expose Stephen Kelly down Reading's right flank. Clearly a tricky winger he seemed to go to ground quite easily under soft touches from Blackman and Kelly on the wings. From cutting inside Fabbrini's trickery then earned him a free kick that he dipped up and over the wall low to the bottom corner, but Federici easily saved.
15 minutes in and the Royals finally realised there was a game being played with Blackman looking tricky at times and Norwood playing some good passes. Norwood looks like a player going forward who could play behind the striker well, comparisons drawn up (by my dad) to Darren Caskey as a man who can find a man in space with ease. Norwood hit a strike from 30 yards without the venom to test the keeper properly as it fell straight into Forde's grasp.
As the first half began to draw to an end the game sparked to life a bit Obita drilling in a cross that Pogrebnyak managed to stretch and get on the end of with a header, but Forde easily caught. Then a Hooiveld hoof upfield saw Maierhofer the giant number 42 win a header for Gregory to volley just wide of goal.
Then on the stroke of half time, the referee appeared to want to call play back for a prior foul as Hector burst through the middle, before the young academy graduate Sid Nelson lashed out our own academy product bringing the towering defender crashing down. The red card was quickly shown by the referee cue a typical south London brawl as some Millwall players appeared to fight each other on the pitch with Pavel getting stuck in too. No sooner had play restarted, the referee blew for half time and yet again the Royals were left hoping the second half of the game would be more entertaining than the first.
Millwall made two changes at half time taking of Maierhofer for a defender and bringing on a young winger to change to a 4-4-1 formation with the plan to be sit back, contain Reading and counter when possible through Fabbrini and Cowan-Hall. To Millwall's credit it was a spirited second half display full of crunching tackles, fight and desire to always be first to a 50/50 ball. Their fans will have definitely left The Den happier than the travelling Royals.
With Clarke realising the way the tide had turned in the second half he quickly took off Blackman and Chalobah, and introduced Cox and McCleary (who many questioned why he was dropped in the first place) into the fray. McCleary immediately looked to drive down the wing with a low cross that nearly found HRK at the near post, the slightest touch would've resulted in a goal but it wasn't to be. Yet as with the Fulham game a week and a half prior to this one for all his stopovers and trickery he couldn't pick out a man in the middle with his delivery.
Millwall then nearly gave themselves a chance of taking all 3 points as Gregory was found unmarked at the back post from a lofted free kick. Fortunately for Reading his powerful header was stopped by the strong palms of our Aussie keeper—the sooner he signs a new contract the better in my opinion as he seems our most valuable asset at times.
Cox then stung Forde's palms with a drilled shot from 25 yards after doing well to create some room but the game was visibly fading into a 0-0 with the clock counting down, Mackie's introduction for HRK seeming a formality for a player who'd been poor and refused to help Obita out on the wing, Williams and Norwood being seen out wide more often than the Welshman who clearly realised he wasn't playing in Wales anymore after a good 10 minutes on Saturday.
The game ended with Pavel falling over which seemed a fitting end to this 0-0 performance, however the Royals can be pleased with a point away from home and on this basis we should stay up this season, onwards and upwards, URZZZ!
Also to end this report on an interesting side note, The Den was a cracking stadium with a good atmosphere, it was the first all seater stadium built after the Justice Taylor Hillsborough report, yet it didn't fall into the trap of being an identikit stadium (or as my Portsmouth-supporting friend refers to it, Reading's Ikea ground). Instead you can see from the names of the stands that they're proud of their South East London roots and their own history. Which begs the question: why are the Reading stands still named North, South, East and West, did the designer have an obsession with compasses? Surely it's time the fans voted for new stand names?
Don't forget to check out Hugh's player ratings for the game, click here.