Reading 3, Rotherham United 0: A night for Millers fans to forget after defeat at the Madejski

Rotherham's Richie Smallwood has his progress halted as he takes evasive action at Reading
Rotherham's Richie Smallwood has his progress halted as he takes evasive action at Reading
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It rained heavily, they played poorly, they were a long way from home, they were well beaten.

There have been some great nights for Rotherham United in the last two and a bit seasons under manager Steve Evans.

Rotherham's Alex Revell goes onto the attack at Reading

Rotherham's Alex Revell goes onto the attack at Reading

But this wasn’t one of them. At least it wasn’t the derby against Sheffield Wednesday.

The Millers have three days to recover the form and spirit that saw them go five games unbeaten before conceding three goals in each of their last two matches.

Leading 1-0 at half-time, Reading, who had looked short of confidence early on after losing four of their last five encounters, added two more in eight second-half minutes, making it a long, long last half-hour for the visitors.

There was little meaningful action in the early stages. Ben Pringle delivered several crosses with came to nothing, but chances weren’t so much few and far between as non-existent.

Not until the 16th minute did either team muster an effort on target, Paul Green shooting from distance after Reading goalkeeper Adam Federici had spilled a Pringle cross on the run and Alex Pearce cleared only as far as the Millers midfielder.

Two minutes later, Lee Frecklington had a shout for a penalty as he went through on goal and hit the deck under pressure.

There were lots of empty seats in a big stadium and the frustration of the home fans could be clearly heard.

But all that changed on the half-hour mark when Jamie Mackie scored his first goal of the season to ease the tension. Kari Arnason failed to clear properly and Mackie was on to the loose ball in a flash, swivelling and burying his shot into the top-left corner.

The Millers needed Adam Collin to save them three minutes later as a Simon Cox shot headed towards goal and the keeper did well to get down and turn the ball for a corner, and he produced an even better effort three minutes before half-time to deny Mackie after Joe Skarz’s indecision saw the Reading man latch on to Arnason’s square pass.

As the rain teemed down, midfielder Richard Smallwood, playing on the right in preference to Paul Taylor, inexplicably played the ball back out to the flank when Pringle’s quick corner had surprised the Reading defence. The Rotherham would have had time and space to turn and shoot had he decided to take the opportunity.

The Millers, nowhere near their best, had a let-off on the stroke of half-time when Oliver Norwood’s 20-yard free-kick on left cannoned off the bar, but they were to be utterly outplayed in the second half.

Cox added a second goal for Reading in the 55th minute as he latched on to Mackie’s little through ball and grabbed a second for himself in the 63rd minute, firing home on the half-volley in fine style.

The only time the Millers really worked Federici in the Reading goal was in the 50th minute when Arnason’s header was beaten out for a corner.

Before the match, the club had won their appeal against Jordan Bowery’s sending-off in Saturday’s clash against Middlesbrough. The big striker was named among the substitutes and saw action in the second half.

Boss Steve Evans had used some strong words about the performance of assistant linesman Keith Dawson in the red-card incident, and the Football League panel, reviewing TV evidence, could find no reason to let the officials’ decision stand.

One small victory on a sorry day of defeat.

Reading: Federici, Gunter, Kelly, Ferdinand, Hector (H-T), Pearce, Norwood, Cox (Taylor 90), Obita, Mackie, Murray, Williams (Akpan 67). Subs not used: Robson-Kanu, Blackman, Anderson, Cooper

Rotherham United: Collin, Richardson, Morgan, Arnason (Milsom 77), Skarz (Broadfoot 67), Frecklington (Bowery 67), Smallwood, Green, Pringle, Revell, Derbyshire. Subs not used: Loach, Swift, Taylor, Clarke-Harris.

Referee: Andy Woolmer (Northants).

Attendance: 13,775 (342).