Paul Ince calls for ruthless streak from leaders Reading after win at Millwall

The Royals missed a couple of gilt-edged chances.

By Press Association Published: 27 August 2022 - 6.05pm

Boss Paul Ince claimed the only disappointment in Reading’s 1-0 win against Millwall at The Den was his side’s inability to win by a bigger margin.

Ince saw his side secure a hard-fought victory, their third in succession, which took them to the top of the Championship.

Debutant Naby Sarr’s first-half header was enough to separate the teams in an intriguing tussle in the capital.

Ince’s men have surprised many onlookers with their start to the campaign, having narrowly avoided relegation last season, but controlled the majority of the contest and were good value for the win.

They could even have left with a larger margin of victory had Jeff Hendrick and Shane Long converted gilt-edged chances.

Despite his buoyant mood at his team’s display, Ince highlighted a couple of areas for improvement.

He said: “I said to the lads afterwards that I’m disappointed in the fact we didn’t put the game to bed and that’s the lesson learned.

“In other words, you win two or three-nil, game over, we all sit back.

“But in the last five or 10 minutes, they’re throwing balls into our box that could go anywhere.

“It’s a lottery then, isn’t it?

“If you come away with a draw, [that] would have been devastating because we deserved to win the game by two or three.”

On his side’s lofty position in the table, Ince added: “I think it’s great the fans can say that.

“We struggled to stay in the league last year and I think Reading fans, who again came in droves to come and support us, never envisaged that after six games we’d be top of the table.

“So give them that, let them enjoy that moment and hopefully that may last a long, long time, but let them enjoy.

“It’s something for them, for the support they’ve given us over the last six months I’ve been here.”

Millwall boss Gary Rowett was largely in agreement with his opposite number on which side had the better of the game.

The Lions started brightly but were pegged back by Sarr’s early opener and then struggled to exert themselves on the contest until the closing minutes.

A Jake Cooper header, which was deflected in off the offside Benik Afobe, was the closest they came to snatching a draw as Millwall dropped points at home for the first time in the league this season.

Rowett’s side slipped to 16th in the table following the defeat and he implored his players to avoid giving themselves mountains to climb by continually falling behind in games.

He said: “I think we started brightly. We made a really good start to the game and put them under a lot of pressure early on.

“The challenge is, like we’ve found so often this season, is you can’t keep coming back and finding solutions in games when you’re behind.

“We’ve scored the first goal in the Stoke game only in six league games and one cup game. This division is defined by that a lot of the times.

“[Reading] sat in and made it really tough. They’ve not had loads of possession in the game but they’ve been really resilient.”

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