BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Millwall extended their unbeaten run to six matches in all competitions as goals from Matt Smith and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson sealed a thoroughly merited victory over Reading.
The Lions have lost just once since November 2, a defeat against today’s opposition at the Madejski Stadium. And they have kept four clean sheets in their last five matches.
Both goals came in the second half and were nothing less than Gary Rowett’s side deserved.
The Royals did not even test Bartosz Bialkowski until the full 90 minutes had been played. It was another excellent defensive display by the hosts.
This was a clash of two of the Championship’s form sides.
Millwall were on top in the opening 45 minutes, the only complaint that they didn’t force Rafael Cabral into serious saves.
The closest they came to breaking the deadlock in the first period fell to their strikers.
First Tom Bradshaw nodded straight at Cabral after Matt Smith’s flick dropped to him about eight yards out.
And then Smith met a diagonal ball into the box with the Royals keeper hopelessly stranded as he raced from his line – only for his effort to drop wide of the left upright.
The officiating of referee Keith Stroud was a source of frustration to both benches and he had to go and speak to the two managers at one stage.
He did little to endear himself to the home support after booking Bradshaw for simulation. He and his assistants were booed off at the interval.
Murray Wallace has been in good form for the Lions and produced a vital tackle just before the half-time whistle – putting a block on Sam Baldock, who had been played through by Cabral’s punt forwards.
Reading, who came into the contest without a defeat since December 7, did not muster a shot on target in the first half but there were a couple of hairy moments.
Smith was unlucky in the 52nd minute as his shot was blocked by Liam Moore and looped out for a corner. It could just as easily have ended up going past a helpless Cabral.
Reading did conjure up a decent opportunity on 67 minutes. Tyler Blackett produced a quality cross from the left but John Swift slid in and could only direct his effort wide.
Millwall finally made the breakthrough on 72 minutes. There looked to be a good claim for handball as substitute Connor Mahoney appeared to use his arm to control the ball. But play continued and Smith slammed emphatically home from Jed Wallace’s cutback.
Smith unwittingly blocked a thunderous hit by Jayson Molumby soon after as the Lions looked to kill off the contest.
And it was left to former Reading striker Bodvarsson to apply a deadly finish to a Millwall counter. Jed Wallace again provided the pass – slipping the Icelandic international in on the left of the box. Bodvarsson took a touch before finishing sweetly past Cabral for his first goal for the South Londoners.
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