A 2-1 defeat to Millwall marked a second successive home loss for Reading and more points dropped in the race for promotion. 

And for the second game in a row, Veljko Paunovic’s men came away with nothing despite having taken the lead early on.

Having defended well after Alfa Semedo’s freak opener in the first half, the Royals’ resilience broke down late in the second 45 when Matt Smith equalised for the Lions on 76 minutes. 

Reading’s misery was compounded in the 85th minute when Mason Bennett looped a header over Rafael moments after Ovie Ejaria missed a great opportunity to restore his team’s lead. 

This was the second time Reading failed to hang onto a lead in less than a week after Wednesday’s loss to Brentford, in which the Royals lost after failing to defend a 1-0 advantage.

READ MORE: Reading v Millwall as it happened 

The Royals’ defeat leaves them in fifth place, nine points off the automatic promotion places and eight points from seventh.

Millwall, who remain 13th, had the better of the opening exchanges with a couple of shots from the edge of the area in the first five minutes, but these came to nothing.

The Lions continued to threaten early on, making the most of Michael Morrison being forced off for treatment for a head injury. 

Former Royal George Evans saw a looped header bounce off the crossbar on seven minutes as Reading rode their luck.

The game became scrappy and neither side could hold the ball. 

But the game burst into life on 17 minutes when Millwall keeper Bartosz Bialkowski bowled out the ball to a midfielder.

READ MORE: Player ratings as Reading lose to Millwall

Alfa Semedo rapidly closed down the Lions’ man, firing the ball towards where it came from with Millwall man Bialkowski out of position. 

The ball trickled over the line as the Lions’ goalie scrambled back to his net. 

Millwall threatened with a Jake Cooper header 17 minutes later but the former Reading centre-half sent his effort wide.

Just minutes later the centre-back was in action again having been skinned by Michael Olise on the halfway line.

The teenager skipped past his marker and sent Joao through on goal but the Royals’ top scorer was denied by Bialkowski, who saved smartly.

Neither side could gain control of the game in the opening ten minutes of the second half after a scrappy start following the interval. 

A Millwall penalty shout in the 60th minute was waved away by the referee after a Lions forward took a tumble in the area. 

Moments later, Josh Laurent fired an arrowed shot straight at Millwall keeper Bialkowski.

Just after the hour mark Michael Olise saw a curling free-kick saved by man in Millwall’s net, with Rinomhota unable to turn in the rebound. 

Millwall found a way back into the game when Matt Smith smashed in a close-range effort following a rapid counter-attack. 

The Lions’ equaliser came on 76 minutes after a ball from the left was scuffed by Bradshaw, whose hit fell straight into the path of Smith. 

Less than two minutes after the restart Ovie Ejaria found himself in space in the Millwall box and fired a shot agains the crossbar from near the penalty spot. 

The tricky winger was then dragged down in the Lions’ area moments later but the referee said no to penalty shouts. 

Reading responded well to the equaliser but it was Millwall who moved in front on 85 minutes after Mason Bennett looped a header over Rafael from inside the penalty area. 

The goal came after a whipped cross from the left Reading failed to block. 

The Royals could not respond despite four minutes of time being added on and Millwall ran out 2-1 winners.