Veljko Paunovic cut a relieved figure as Reading finally ended their wretched Championship run with a 1-1 draw at Millwall.
Jed Wallace’s stunning free-kick put the hosts ahead on the stroke of half-time but Lucas Joao levelled after the break to secure a vital point.
Paunovic’s side had flown high at the top of Championship table until four straight defeats left them stuck on 22 points for a month, though the manager felt all three were up for grabs at The Den.
“From the perspective of the competitor, I’m not happy with a point,” he said. “But from the perspective of a manager and having to see a long-term picture and moving from that enchanted number 22, getting a point is positive.
“We also applied a couple of lessons in today’s game that we learnt in the past. We’re not a team that has many draws.
“In the Coventry game (last month) we had a very similar situation where we were level but then, because we wanted to win, we emphasised going for the win.
“We conceded and lost so that didn’t happen this time, and that helped us to at least get the point that can serve as a catalyst for the future.
“We had to defend in the second half in certain moments. Although we controlled the game more and were on the ball more, we also had to play the other side.”
Wallace’s opener was certainly worth the 45-minute wait, curling in a superb free-kick after Troy Parrott was fouled outside the area.
But Millwall could not hold on and Joao fired hard and low to level up for the visitors, neatly played in by Michael Olise’s chip.
The Lions looked the more likely winners but were forced to settle for a league-high seventh draw of the Championship season.
Manager Gary Rowett said: “We’ve had a couple of excellent chances where we should go and win the game.
“I felt tonight’s performance overall was better than Saturday, I felt we played a lot better.
“Reading, although they’ve lost the last four games, showed early in the season they’re a really difficult team to play against.
“I thought first half we played really well. Troy gives you that extra bit of movement and link off the front and I think we looked really bright, controlled the first half and really gave them absolutely nothing, without creating enough good chances.
“I thought we got into some good areas but didn’t quite create the best chances.
“Second half, we probably had a five-minute spell where we looked a little bit nervy being 1-0 up, maybe that’s because we haven’t won as many games as we would have liked, particularly at home.”