READING FC eased pressure on boss Paul Clement with a priceless 3-1 victory against fellow Championship strugglers Millwall FC at Madejski Stadium.

Yakou Meite, who muted some of his critics after recently penning a four-year deal, gave Clement’s side an early lead following Anssi Jaakola’s heroics between the sticks.

Murray Wallace clawed one back for Neil Harris’ side following a goal-mouth scramble but a Sam Baldock penalty restored Reading’s lead at the break.

The visitors continued to be a threat throughout the afternoon but a late Meite header from a corner ensured Royals kept all three points in the bag.

Winger Garath McCleary made his first start since February after he suffered a broken ankle in the 3-1 defeat against Sheffield United.

Jaakola was also named in the starting XI after Vito Mannone and Sam Walker both picked up training ground injuries in midweek.

Saied Ezatolahi meanwhile, following a positive start to life in Berkshire, was forced to miss out after sustaining an injury on international duty while Chris Gunter and Marc McNulty were relegated to the bench.

Royals struggled to build any momentum in the opening moments and nearly found themselves a goal behind when Jed Wallace was played through on goal after 10 minutes.

Thankfully, Finnish goalkeeper Jaakola reacted quickly and was able to deny Wallace with his leg after Lee Gregory’s neat through ball.

The chance roared Neil Harris’ Lions to life however and Royals had to defend for their lives as the visitors earned a succession of early corners.

Former Reading academy graduate Jake Cooper had the best chance of the opening 15 minutes with a free header from a matter of yards but the towering centre-back was sensationally denied by a determined Jaakola.

Royals finally ramped up the tempo after 20 minutes and could have taken the lead when Liam Kelly rattled the post after Andy Yiadom’s low cross.

Meite had a second bite of the cherry with Millwall’s Ben Amos rooted but his effort was brilliantly blocked by Mahlon Romeo.

But the Ivorian forward soon made amends when he fired Clement’s side into the lead after a wicked delivery by Tyler Blackett.

Meite used the pace of the ball to guide a brilliant header beyond Amos’ out-stretched arm and into the back of the net, sending Madejski Stadium into raptures.

But the celebrations were short-lived as Royals’ sloppy defending took its toll as Murray Wallace was allowed to tuck the ball from from close range to make it 1-1 after 35 minutes.

Royals kept up their determination though and the game took a dramatic twist on the stroke of half-time when Tyler Blackett was appeared to have been hacked down inside the penalty area.

Sam Baldock stepped up to the mantle and fired his fourth goal of the season - and Royals’ second of the afternoon - into the top corner from 12 yards.

Clement’s side had their hearts in their mouths early on in the second half when Millwall rattled the crossbar after 49 minutes.

A goalmouth scramble ensued but Royals did well to clear their lines while the resulting corner came to nothing.

Royals had a chance to double their cushion when John Swift slipped Meite through on goal after 53 minutes but Amos did well to parry the Ivorian’s drive.

The visitors continued to push forward but Royals held firm at every opportunity in a bid to protect a precious one-goal lead.

Jaakola was forced into another strong save to deny a powerful strike by Shane Ferguson after 68 minutes.

Tom Elliott then had a glorious chance to make it 2-2 when he found himself unmarked in the box but the striker scuffed his effort well over the crossbar.

Chris Gunter was thrown on after 72 minutes and a change in shape saw Clement switch to five at the back as Royals put their emphasis on defending.

Jaakola was called upon again after 83 minutes, this time getting down well to deny a deflected effort which appeared to be goal bound.

But just when the Lions looked likely to pounce Yakou Meite was left unmarked at a corner to head home his second goal of the afternoon and claim a vital three points for Clement’s Royals.

Reading FC: Jaakola, Yiadom, Moore, Ilori, Blackett, Bacuna, Swift, Kelly, McCleary (Gunter,72), Meite (McNulty,83), Baldock (Rinomhota,79). 

Subs not used: Legg, Meyler, Aluko, Sims,

Millwall FC: Amos, Meredith (O’Brien, 69), Cooper, Williams, M Wallace, Gregory, Ferguson, Romeo, Elliott (Morison,76) J Wallace, Leonard (Bradshaw,83).

Subs not used: Archer, Hutchinson,, Tunnicliffe, Skalak.

Bookings: Cooper (58), Rinomhota (90).

Referee: David Webb

Attendance: 14,532 (1,831 away)