EXTRA TIME strikes from George Evans and Sam Smith defeated visitors Millwall and moved Reading into the third round of the Carabao Cup.
The pair were locked after 90 minutes with Shane Ferguson cancelling out Leandro Bacuna’s opener for the Royals.
Bacuna fired home from 25 yards for his first Royals goal moments before Ferguson’s deflected effort made it 1-1 which is how things stayed until extra time when a fine long range strike from Evans and a late finish from youngster Sam Smith avoided the penalty shoot-out lottery.
Royals were quick out of the blocks, attacking down the left through Adrian Popa but his ball in failed to find a Reading shirt before Axel Andresson fell to the ground in the Millwall box as the ball was swung in from a corner but the penalty appeals were waved away by referee Charles Breakspear.
Reading continued to probe with Garath McCleary firing in a dangerous low cross which was cleared by former Royal Jake Cooper for the visitor and Evans shot over the bar after Sam Smith’s lay off.
Stephen Quinn, making his first start in eleven months, clipped in a corner towards Andresson whose sweetly-struck volley was not too far away from the target.
Royals took the lead on 34 minutes through Bacuna who, making his home debut, picked up the ball and ran 30 yards through the Millwall defence before letting rip from 25 yards into the top corner, putting the hosts in front.
However, Royals were only in front for three minutes before Tony Craig’s chip to the back post fell to Ferguson, whose deflected strike flew past Anssi Jaakkola and into the Reading net. Ben Thompson tried his luck from range for Lions but his first-time shot went over the bar to leave the game finely poised at half-time.
After the restart Chris Gunter went close for Reading after Popa’s cutback, but the unmarked captain side-footed his effort wide.
Millwall then enjoyed a spell of possession, forcing a couple of corners with Tom Elliott
heading wide and Ryan Tunnicliffe’s driven shot drifting over. Byron Webster then missed a great opportunity when Ferguson’s free-kick found him unmarked but his header from six yards was off-target.
Quinn received the ball from Bacuna on the left and forced a save out of Tom King between the Millwall sticks, but his attempt lacked the power required to trouble the Lions keeper.
A sudden burst of speed from Popa and a neat one-two with sub Modou Barrow put the Romanian winger through and his curling effort was just over the bar.
Popa was at it again moments later after a swift counter attack and King had to parry the thunderous hit away and out to safety before Bacuna’s long pass almost fell to Popa a few yards out but keeper King did well to race out and smother.
As the clock ticked towards 90 minutes Evans nicked the ball and carried it deep into the Millwall half before giving it to Smith who burst into the box but he could not keep his shot down and it sailed over to send the game into extra time.
In the first period of extra time, Barrow was clear through after Pelle Clement’s pass but his left-footed effort went wide before Gunter failed to keep a shot down, and Popa struck into the side netting.
A rare moment of quality put the Royals back in front as Evans thumped an effort from 20 yards into the top corner on the stroke of half time in extra-time.
With Millwall looking to take the game to penalties, Aiden O’Brien met Jed Wallace’s cross for Lions but the sub’s header flew harmlessly over the bar.
Smith added a third late on after a long ball over the top put him through and the forward finished smartly past King to put the game to bed and confirm Reading’s spot in round three.
READING: Jaakkola; Rinomhota, Ilori, Andresson (Blackett 90+2), Gunter (c); Evans, Bacuna (Loader 95), Quinn (Barrow 71); McCleary (Clement 45), Popa, Smith.
Subs not used: Legg, East, Barrett.
Goals: Bacuna (34), Evans (105), Smith (116)
MILLWALL: King; Romeo, Webster, Cooper, Craig (c); Onyedinma, Tunnicliffe (Williams 78), Thompson, Ferguson (Wallace 96); Butcher (O’Brien 85); Elliott (Morison 66).
Subs not used: Archer, Meredith, Hutchinson.
Goal: Ferguson (37)
Referee: Charles Breakspear
Attendance: 7,148 (inc. 471 away)