The performance was good on Wednesday night, really good. And on another day, we probably would’ve come away with all three points. However, with the result going the way it did, we needed to get back to winning ways on Saturday. But that didn’t happen.
Games against Millwall are always tough: they have their way of playing, it suits the players they have and they can be really effective with it. Pauno changed his starting eleven to combat Millwall’s style, which in hindsight was a confusing thing to do.
I just feel if we’d have gone with Omar Richards and Andy Yiadom at full back then it would’ve allowed us to implement our own style on the game. Setting up the way we did suggested to me that Pauno had already admitted that it was a game we couldn’t do that in, which is surprising.
However, Pauno’s changes seemed to be working until he subbed off Tom Holmes for Yiadom - after Millwall had gone to 4-4-2 and brought on big Matt Smith - and then we conceded two goals down our right-hand side.
A really frustrating afternoon, summed up by these tweets...
Before it all went pear-shaped, Alfa Semedo had time to produce a moment of sheer brilliance or bizarre fortune, depending on whether your glass is half full or half empty.
The camera man did a great job of not getting the goal in real time, but looking back on it, I have to say I think it’s a tackle from Alfa. I would love to be wrong though.
It was the one glimmer of shining light form an otherwise very dim afternoon, and the fans were loving it...
I don’t think Semedo meant that brilliant goal if he did. As always, solid coverage on iFollow as they show a replay in the middle of play so nobody saw the goal live #ReadingFC— Sam Spencer-Ades (@SamSpencer001) February 13, 2021
Granted the keeper looks like he's running in mud, but it's Williams that makes a mess of the throw and Semedo deserves every credit for - very deliberately - having a pop.— Greg Double (@Dubstep1988) February 13, 2021
Conclusion, this will be described as a 'freak goal' - it's actually a very good one. #readingfc https://t.co/kisWCzdODC
This is where things started going not so great. The performance wasn’t good all afternoon, but we looked solid enough in the second half as Millwall began to put the pressure on, something I don’t think would’ve happened if Pauno had gone with his strongest line-up in the first place but there you go.
Holmes has been fantastic this season, and was playing well again on Saturday so the decision to take him off at 1-0 up with 15 or so minutes to go was very odd, and it came back to bite us as Millwall ended up scoring from two crosses down their left-hand side.
The fans weren't happy at all with Pauno’s decision...
As many have already said why take Tom Holmes off at 1-0 when they’re literally lumping it to Matt Smith? Mental sub #readingfc— Nick Houlton (@Houlton11) February 13, 2021
Taking Holmes off is the worst decision I’ve seen all season #readingfc— . (@Jacobhdgs) February 13, 2021
First time I’d question the mangers subs/tactics this season .... taking off Holmes at 1-0 up against a physical ball in the air Millwall team was madness ♂️ ♂️ ♂️ #readingfc— padz (@padzRfc) February 13, 2021
Love what Pauno has done this year but no substitutions to a team who played at such high intensity only days earlier and then Holmes off at 1-0 up just doesn’t make sense. Bad day at the office all round #readingfc— Richard Crewdson (@crewy100) February 13, 2021
So let me get this straight... We subbed off our Holmes who can defend crosses for Yiadom who is somewhat lacking in that department. Then proceed to concede twice from balls into the box... Tactical disaster class which you'll hope Pauno will learn from #readingfc— TomHS (@tmgharrowsmith) February 13, 2021
Not a patch on Wednesday but still 8 points above 7th. Yiadom on to sit in front of Holmes you could understand. Yiadom and Richards still our best full backs. Both to start on Tuesday though harsh on Holmes who has been excellent all season. #readingfc— Rob Molloy (@Dobchecks) February 13, 2021
Some fans trying to justify that Holmes sub Just go five at the back surely if anything? Sub an attack minded player. Ludicrous. Valuable points lost. #readingfc— Jacob Potter (@pott95) February 13, 2021
That Holmes sub has ruined my day. We would not have conceded 2 with Holmes on the pitch and you all know that #readingfc— George (@GS_1871) February 13, 2021
Poor performance and result
On Wednesday night we didn’t get what our performance deserved, however on Saturday we got exactly what it deserved.
We were poor all over the pitch, we just let Millwall play exactly how they want to play and they’re good at playing it. There wasn’t a lot of press from Joao on the centre backs who were happy to launch it upfield to the big strikers. And it ended up working for them.
It was an awful day at the office, the first time this season I’ve been left let down by the performance, we have to put things right on Tuesday.
The fans were left just as fuming as me, and rightly so...
3 really disappointing results after smashing Bournemouth a few weeks back. Didnt learn from Wednesday night and let the opposition back in again. Shouldn't be losing games like that if we're serious about going up. #readingfc— Tom (@tommietannk) February 13, 2021
Results like this really make me miss the pub #readingfc— Jonathan Graham (@Jonatha34602856) February 13, 2021
No excuses with regards to this performance. Negative game plan and Millwall deserved something out of it. BUT, I’m sick of complaining about refereeing at this level. The standard is absolutely shameful, VAR sooner rather than later #readingfc— Harry Smith (@harrysmithEFL) February 13, 2021
Terrible result. Typical Reading performance in a winnable home game. #readingfc— Tom (@TomMoore0506) February 13, 2021
Disappointing game that. Just never really got going. Knew exactly what Millwall were going to do and just seemed to play straight into their hands. Big performance and result needed on Tuesday #readingfc— James Earnshaw (@JamesEarnshaw10) February 13, 2021
Baffling how we went from the performance of the season against Bournemouth to this in the space of a fortnight. The lack of consistency is unbelievable. #readingfc— Tom Mitchell (@tomwmitch_) February 13, 2021
Frustrating result and performance today! Felt we were too slow and didn't threaten Millwall anywhere near enough! Fingers crossed for a better performance on Tuesday! #readingfc— Adam Page (@page1871) February 13, 2021
Totally flat performance. Can question Pauno’s team selection & Holmes substitution today. Awful referee. Scuffed shot helps Millwall get back in. Squad looking thin, nothing on the bench. Disappointing performance. #readingfc @willow1871— Stevie p (@stevie_p1871) February 13, 2021
Well that #ReadingFC performance calls for a bottle of red so that I can forget it ASAP.— Erik O (@Orrgarde) February 13, 2021
A poor day at the office all round. Things change so, so quickly in this league that we can't afford a serious dip in form. I have full faith in the players and Pauno to put this right on Tuesday night and start to get some momentum going again.
When you don’t win, you learn. Keep the faith.