Millwall head back on the road this Saturday in the Sky Bet Championship, as The Lions look to record successive wins and a first away victory of the season in the short trip down the M4 to face Reading.
Gary Rowett takes his team on his first trip on the road, with The Lions sitting in 15th in the Sky Bet Championship, six points ahead of Mark Bowen’s Reading side, having played a game more. The Royals had previously endured a barren spell of six defeats and one draw in seven games, but are unbeaten in their last two having beaten Preston and drawn with QPR to lift themselves out of the relegation places.
Reading have spent the majority of their recent history in the second tier, albeit with two spells in the Premier League – the last of which coming in 2012/13 with now-Millwall captain Alex Pearce amongst the squad. The Berkshire side have gone through mixed fortunes in their record in the Championship, registering the record points total of 106 in the 2005/06 season – supplemented by an eighth-place finish in the top flight the following year – and also winning the division title in 2012. Three Play-Off campaigns have also been achieved by Reading in the past 11 seasons, including that of 2017 in which they were beaten in the Final on penalties by Huddersfield Town. However, the club have found it increasingly difficult of late by their own standards, finishing 20th in the past two seasons. Alongside three promotions, Reading have also won three third tier titles, and reached two FA Cup Semi-Finals, including in 2015.
Reading made some intriguing signings over the course of the summer under former manager Jose Gomes, before his own departure in recent weeks. George Puscas, Lucas Joao and Charlie Adam were among those to arrive at the Madejski, as well as Michael Morrison, Matt Miazga and Ovie Ejaria. Departing The Royals was of course Iceland striker Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, now of Lions fame, alongside Liam Kelly, Vito Mannone and Modou Barrow among others.
Mark Bowen began his time as manager of Reading last month, in a controversial move after his role in the parting of the ways between the club and former boss Gomes. Bowen – previously the club’s sporting director and technical consultant – finished his playing career at the Madejski in 1999, and gained coaching experience with a series of clubs as part of Welsh compatriot Mark Hughes’ backroom team. In terms of management itself, the 55-year-old has taken on caretaker duties with QPR previously, along with the reserve team of Crystal Palace. As a player, Bowen was primarily a left-back, spending most of his career making over 300 League appearances for Norwich City.
Millwall and Reading have contested no less than 103 competitive matches in the past, with The Lions coming out on top in 38 to The Royals’ 42 wins. We have won three of our last four against the men from the Madejski, with the last meeting tilting in our favour – a Jed Wallace free-kick sealing last season’s Boxing Day clash at The Den by a goal to nil.