Reading 0-1 Millwall: Voglsammer’s first-half penalty enough as Lions boost play-off hopes
Millwall bolstered their Championship play-off hopes with a hard-earned 1-0 victory in a feisty encounter at Reading.
In a scrappy first half, the visitors secured an early advantage when German midfielder Andreas Voglsammer coolly converted a penalty.
The second period was little better, although neither side were able to create any clear-cut chances, but Millwall maintained their composure for a vital narrow win.
Millwall’s play-off push had stuttered lately, with only two wins in their past six outings.
Reading were in similarly-poor form, winning only two of their past 11 league matches.
Millwall began sluggishly but at least offered a number of robust tackles as the hosts sought to find a way through going forward.
Jeff Hendrick did fashion a half-chance for Reading but his long-range effort was blocked.
Having finally settled, Millwall went ahead in the 11th minute after sloppy play in the home midfield – primarily from defender Naby Sarr.
Zian Flemming ran through alone and, just as he entered the area, goalkeeper Joe Lumley brought him down with a clumsy challenge.
Referee Michael Salisbury pointed to the spot and Voglsammer made no mistake, slamming the ball past Lumley high into his right-hand top corner.
Millwall looked to build on their advantage but Flemming and fellow 13-goal striker Tom Bradshaw were starved of decent service.
Reading tried to regroup and push into the Millwall half but the visitors were always in control at the back and rarely troubled.
From a Tom Ince free kick in a dangerous position on the right flank, Lions goalkeeper George Long rose well to gather the ball with ease.
As the game grew increasingly fractious before half time, Salisbury had to speak to Reading manager Paul Ince to calm him down.
Millwall made a bright opening to the second period, with Flemming at the heart of much of their forward movement.
Voglsammer also proved troublesome for the home defence, a left-wing cross from him only caught by Lumley at the last moment as it threatened to creep into the net.
Andy Carroll tried to get Reading going but – as in the first half – was still subject to some fierce attention from his markers.
It meant that the home side were unable to make any significant headway, allowing Millwall to absorb the sporadic pressure and then break swiftly.
Another clever cross from Voglsammer had Lumley in trouble again but there was no team-mate on hand to tuck the ball home from close range.
Millwall gradually retreated further, protecting their lead, and Long had to move smartly to save at the feet of Reading substitute Lucas Joao.
Manager Ince was eventually booked near the end as Salisbury’s patience ran out and the Lions held on relatively comfortably to boost their bid for the top six.