Reading 1 Rotherham United 1
Ejaria (31) Ajayi (79)
This game was billed as a ‘must win game’ for both teams before kick-off but they ended with a point apiece which probably isn’t a lot of good to either.
The Millers began the game well with some early pressure and a long Will Vaulks throw found Jon Taylor who saw his shot deflected for a corner. Minutes later the visitors should have gone in front after some great work from Michael Smith saw him find Anthony Forde who hurried his shot when he had plenty of time with the move coming to nothing when it perhaps should have been in the net. Ovie Ejaria did well to clear from a Vaulks throw followed by another long hoist from the Rotherham skipper who played a one-two with Forde before the ball was cleared. Former Miller John Swift tried his luck from distance but it didn’t bother Millers’ ‘keeper Marek Rodak. Two injuries for the Millers saw Joe Mattock need treatment after stopping Yakou Meite getting a shot away and Forde slipped with Meite catching him as he went down. A superb free-kick from Swift was put behind by Billy Jones before a Royals player could get near it with the resulting corner being headed away by firstly Smith then Jon Taylor. Just after the half hour mark Garath McCleary flew down the pitch and found Ejaria who hit the ball into the top corner of the net to give the hosts the lead. Buoyed up by the goal the Royals were on the ascendancy with McCleary in space again only a good interception from Vaulks stopping his cross finding a Reading player before Ejaria saw a shot from distance go wide. Semi Ajayi has to be on his toes to stop another cross from McCleary finding a team mate with the following corner being cleared by Forde. At the other end a good ball into the box by Mattock found the head of Smith but it came to nothing before a shot from Swift at the other end went over the crossbar. As half-time was looming Richie Towell got the better of his marker sending the in towards Smith who couldn’t quite get to it. As the board went up for two extra minutes Jones did well to get to a ball before Nelson Oliveira before some good work between Vaulks and Taylor in the box came to an end when McCleary slid in to claim the ball.
Like the first half the Millers started the second forty-five the better and only a superb block from Liam Moore stopped a shot from Richie Towell going close before a Will Vaulks cross towards Michael Ihiekwe in the box was a bit high for the Millers defender. The first yellow of the afternoon went to Joe Mattock after he pulled Yakou Meite. After the Millers had a spell of pressure Reading came away with the ball which ended with a John Swift shot going wide. A lunge on Richie Towell earned Swift a yellow card which, as he had a kick out at Vaulks too, seems a little lucky for the former Miller. A lovely ball from Towell found Michael Smith but a tackle from Matt Miazga took the ball off him. The first substitution of the afternoon saw Ryan Williams replace Jon Taylor just before the hour mark with the Australians first touch of the ball earning him a yellow card for a challenge on Nelson Oliveira. Billy Jones came to the rescue after a mix-up between Marek Rodak and Michael Ihiekwe before down the other end a lovely ball in from Towell saw Michael Smith’s touch send the ball behind. Some good work from the Millers saw Manny Martinez, former Millers’ ‘keeper, pluck the ball off the head of Anthony Forde. Joe Newell came on for Michael Ihiekwe with ten minutes to go for Rotherham. Ovie Ejaria’s good work came to nothing when he put the ball wide of the post followed by the first change for the hosts when John O’Shea came on for Yakou Meite. Another chance for the visitors saw a shot from Smith stopped by Liam Moore with the seven hundred and sixty travelling fans shouting for handball while referee Jeremy Simpson shook his head. Rodak did well to hold on to a shot from Garath McCleary after more good work from Swift. With eleven minutes to go the Royals were sitting very deep and a super cross from Vaulks was headed on by Clark Robertson who in turn found Semi Ajayi who bundled the ball into the net to make it one-one. A quick free-kick from Williams meant for Smith was easily taken by Martinez. The Millers goal came under attack with firstly Ejaria missing what looked like the simplest of tap-ins followed by a miss from Miazga following a corner. Modou Barrow and Callum Harriott came on for Reading to replace Garath McCleary and Ovie Ejaria. A foul on Swift saw Millers skipper Vaulks get a yellow card which was followed by Matt Crooks coming on for Richie Towell. As the ninety minutes was up the hosts might have gone back in front but Lewis Baker headed straight into the waiting arms of Rodak. In time added on Rodak went out to collect a ball from substitute Barrow but got himself into a bit of a pickle with Barrow going past him but the Millers shot stopper did well to recover and get the ball. At the other end a long throw from Vaulks fell for Newell who might have done better but put the ball wide before another long throw found the head of Smith but it was easy for Martinez to collect.
A game which both teams could have lost or both teams could have won but both end up with a point which, you have to think, will be more acceptable to the travelling Millers than hosts Reading.
Crowd – 15,958 (763 Millers)
Referee – Jeremy Simpson