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Millwall Fans Verdict: Bowen’s Strong Start Continues

Mark Bowen’s positive start to management continued on Saturday afternoon as the Royals ran out deserved 2-1 winners over Gary Rowett’s Millwall.

After last Saturday’s game against Nottingham Forest was postponed, it seemed the clash against Millwall took an absolute age to come - but it was well worth it when it did. Two magnificent strikes from Jordan Obita and Sam Baldock ended up being the difference in a tight affair.

Bowen has continued to emphasise the importance on making us a tougher team to beat and to make sure we do the ugly side of the game just as well as the pretty side - and on Saturday afternoon, we showed both of those aspects of our game.

In the first half we bossed the game and played some very good football. John Swift absolutely ran the show for 90 minutes but was particularly impressive in the opening 45 minutes as he dictated the play from deep. That very good football ended with two very, very good goals - two superb finishes.

Then, in the second half as Millwall piled on the pressure, Bowen’s men dug deep and showed the fight and spirit that every fan loves to see from their team. Doing it without captain Liam Moore made it even tougher, but Michael Morrison and Matt Miazga led the way in a fantastic defensive performance in the second half.

Here’s how the fans reacted to some of the key talking points to come from a win that continued Mark Bowen’s unbeaten start as Manager...

Jordan Obita

Wow, what a moment this was. The goal itself was a brilliant strike from the academy product - but it was so, so much more than a goal. After two years of absolute hell after suffering a horrible knee injury against Hull City in 2017, Jordan Obita is back playing in a Reading shirt and that is a testament to not only the player he is, but also the man he is.

The amount of mental strength he has shown in what must’ve been a horrible couple of years is outstanding and he let all of his emotion out in his celebration - as did the fans and his teammates who all sprinted over to him to celebrate a wonderful moment for him.

The love was pouring in from all angles for Obita on social media after the game - and rightly so...

Baldock wonder goal

Obita wasn’t the only one to score a brilliant goal on Saturday afternoon - Sam Baldock did too. The former Brighton and Hove Albion man has been rejuvenated ever since Bowen came in, and you have to say that Baldock is more than repaying that faith at the moment.

The touch and finish from Baldock was that of a seriously good striker and gave the keeper absolutely no chance at all - talk about postage stamp.

With Lucas Joao and Lucas Boye still out injured, and Meite only just working his way back from his own little injury - Sam Baldock has really stepped up to the plate with two goals in as many games after being brought in from the cold by Mark Bowen.

Here’s how the fans reacted to a fantastic strike from Baldock which was worthy of winning any game...

Winning ugly

In the second half as Millwall started to pump more and more balls into the Reading box and piled on the pressure, Reading had to show a side to them that we as fans haven’t seen very often for a very long time - the ability to win ugly.

Every long ball that came into the box was challenged by a Reading defender - more often than not that defender was Miazga who was fantastic all game, along with Morrison.

As previously mentioned, Reading also had to battle on without their captain as Liam Moore couldn’t quite play through the pain of his shoulder after a few nasty falls, which made the result even more impressive - we just need to hope that Moore isn’t too badly injured!

The fans were loving the defensive performance in the second half, and understandably so. Sometimes these kinds of wins are even more satisfying than 3 or 4-0 wins...

Conclusion

A very, very good first 45 which we dominated and then a dogged defensive display to keep the Lions at bay in the second half - the best of both worlds.

It was a huge win and you could feel the emotion around the stadium when the final whistle went.

Next up is Luton Town at the Mad Stad, another winnable game - but that word is a very dangerous word in the Championship. If we can play how we did in the first half across the whole 90, there is no reason we can’t get a result.

URZ