Reading 1 Rotherham United 1: Millers make their point in basement battle
Rotherham’s season has been dogged by draws but the point in the 1-1 draw at Reading might end up being crucial in their bid for Championship safety.
The Millers were heading for a damaging defeat against the side above them only on goal difference in the table after trailing to Ovie Ejaria’s first-half opener.
Reading were primed to open a three-point lead over their relegation rivals and leave Paul Warne’s side up against in their fight to beat the drop until Semi Ajayi struck in the 79th minute to salvage a draw.
It was their 15th stalemate of the season, the most in the division alongside Aston Villa and their failure to turn at least seven of those into deserved wins is what has ultimately put them in the bottom three.
This is one they will not look back on regret with, however, given how the game unfolded.
After Ajayi’s leveller goalkeeper Marek Rodak had to make three important saves to keep his side level.
But he almost handed the winner on a plate to Reading when he carelessly tried to shepherd the ball into the box and was dispossessed.
“I thought that we started the game really well,” Warne said.
“Reading are an excellent team.
“They had the ball a lot more than we did.
“We tried to high press them but they got out and scored the goal a little bit against the run of play.
“I asked our lads at half-time to have a bit more cutting edge about their play.
“And I thought that we were the better team in the second half.
“We deserved to get a goal, although it nearly all went the other way at the end and Reading nearly nicked another goal.
“That would have been a bitter pill to swallow, so I’m pleased with a point.
“It keeps us in the fight and gives us a nicer journey home.”
Reading’s opener came from a move that started with their keeper Emiliano Martinez as they played around the Millers’ high press, opened them up and then Ejaria slotted home from 15 yards.
The leveller came 11 minutes from time when Ajayi rammed home from close range after Clark Robertson headed Will Vaulks’ cross back across goal.
After Rodak’s heroics and near-villainy, the Millers almost snatched a winner but Joe Newell’s snap-shot flashed just wide.
In the end nothing could separate the two teams, meaning it ended like it has done in almost half of Rotherham’s games this season – a draw.