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Debut Naby Sarr goal sends Reading top after battling win at Millwall
The former Huddersfield man only joined the club on Friday.
A debut goal from Naby Sarr was enough to take Reading to the top of the Championship as they beat Millwall 1-0 at The Den.
The former Huddersfield man’s first-half header proved to be the winner in an intriguing tussle which saw the impressive Royals become the first side to come away from Millwall with victory this season.
A dominant first period for Paul Ince’s men was followed up by a resilient rearguard as they withstood the hosts’ pressure to hit the summit.
Gary Rowett made three changes to the team which suffered defeat against Norwich last time out and Millwall made an energetic start.
Wing-back Danny McNamara saw a threatening cross from the edge of the box deflected away for a corner before Joe Lumley, returning in the Reading goal, was forced into the game’s first save when he reacted smartly to keep out a Tom Bradshaw header from close range.
Ince’s men have surprised many by their impressive start to the campaign and they showed their resolve, first by withstanding the hosts’ early pressure and then growing into the game to quieten the raucous home support.
That endeavour was rewarded in the 14th minute when Sarr nodded in at the far post after Tom Ince’s outswinging free-kick from the left-hand side was flicked on by Sam Hutchinson on the penalty spot.
It was no less than the visitors deserved and aside from the odd Millwall foray into Reading territory, a dominant spell of control followed for the duration of the first period.
The second half continued in the same vein and Jeff Hendrick should have doubled the Reading lead five minutes after the restart.
After a breakdown in a Millwall attack down the right and some incisive counter attacking from the visitors in response, Hendrick was left one-on-one with Bartosz Bialkowski but the Polish stopper comfortably collected the former Burnley man’s tame effort.
That prompted Rowett to make three changes, with Tyler Burey, Zian Flemming and Andreas Voglsammer all introduced in an attempt to turn the tide.
The home side thought they had equalised just after the hour mark when Jake Cooper’s header trickled through a crowd of players and nestled in the Reading net.
But the goal was chalked off for offside in short order after the ball appeared to hit Benik Afobe on the way through.
Rowett’s side pushed late on and even struck the woodwork from a misplaced cross but were ultimately fortunate not to concede another when Shane Long squandered a gilt-edged chance in the closing stages.
Reading’s next test takes them to Sheffield United on Tuesday night while Millwall, who drop to 16th in the table with this defeat, meet Burnley.