|Venue: The Den
MILLWALL battled to a well-earned point with ten men to halt their losing run.
The Lions’ backs were against the wall after defender Sid Nelson was sent off on the stroke of half time but they dug deep to claim a deserved draw.
In fact, Ian Holloway’s side had the best chance of the second period despite their numerical disadvantage when Jos Hooiveld’s close-range header was tipped over.
Ian Holloway has questioned his players’ spirit in recent weeks but they produced a rousing effort to repel waves of late pressure from the Royals.
Loan signing Hooiveld was handed his first Millwall start just 24 hours after joining from Southampton in one of two changes to the starting XI.
Shaun Williams was recalled to the side after a four-match suspension and partnered Jimmy Abdou in the centre of the Lions’ midfield.
Diego Fabbrini, who was hugely impressive on his debut against Ipswich, began the game with a similar swagger.
His clever hold up play drew two early free kicks, the second of which he drove over the wall but straight into the arms of goalkeeper Adam Federici.
Pavel Pogrebnyak had Reading’s first sight of goal but glanced a header wide from Nick Blackman’s fizzing left-wing delivery.
A moment of brilliance from Fabbrini almost carved out the opening goal on the half-hour mark but, after the Italian danced past three defenders, his cross was claimed by Federici.
Lee Gregory went even closer to breaking the deadlock moments later when he collected Stefan Maierhofer’s flick and drilled narrowly beyond the far post.
The better chances were falling the Lions’ way but the visitors were seeing a lot more of the ball.
And at the end of a lengthy passing move, Hal Robson-Kanu powered a near-post header just wide.
The half looked to be petering out until Nelson’s wild tackle on Michael Hector prompted referee Andrew Madley to brandish the red card.
Madley had blown his whistle for a foul a split-second before Nelson came crashing into the Royals defender, who was sent flying to the turf.
Down a man, Holloway decided to make a double change at the break, bringing on Paris Cowan-Hall for his debut and Alan Dunne to shore up the defence.
Reading went straight onto the front foot after the restart and Jordan Obita tested Forde with a bouncing half-volley which the ‘keeper pushed away.
At the other end, Gregory guided Dan Harding’s cross narrowly wide of the top corner with Federici scrambling across his line.
That chance brought the crowd to life and they saw Millwall go close again through Hooiveld, whose header from Shaun Williams’ cross was tipped over.
Cowan-Hall and Williams then missed the target from distance as the Lions continue to create chances despite being a player short.
Tiredness became a factor as the minutes ticked by, however, and Millwall were forced deeper and deeper as Reading threw on fresh legs in search of a winner.
Substiute Simon Cox went closest to getting it but Forde, who was captain for the evening, was equal to his snapshot.