DANNY Collins’ second-half equaliser earned Rotherham United a share of the spoils against high-flying Reading in Neil Redfearn’s first home game in charge, but they were arguably slightly unfortunate not to secure all three points.
Nick Blackman’s fantastic strike from distance put Steve Clarke’s men in charge at the interval but Collins struck immediately after the break to level matters and despite a strong second-half showing from Redfearn’s men, the Millers had to settle for a point.
Following their narrow defeat at the hands of Brentford last weekend, the Millers made four changes to their starting line-up as Norwich loanee Harry Toffolo was handed his Rotherham debut just 24 hours after putting pen to paper on a temporary deal with the Millers as Griffin Park goalscorer Joe Mattock was ruled out because of a shoulder injury.
Tom Thorpe was given an opportunity to impress in the Millers’ engine room as Richie Smallwood was absent due to suspension following his fifth booking of the season in the capital while Tottenham loanee Grant Ward joined him in midfield as Chris Maguire had to settle for a substitutes berth.
French playmaker Tony Andreu was asked to provide the ammunition for the front-pair of Matt Derbyshire and Jonson Clarke-Harris as Aidy White was named on the bench for the visit of the high-flying Royals.
The visitors were quick out of the blocks and quick passing involving Andrew Taylor and Lucas Piazon paved the way for Garath McCleary to work a yard of space on Toffolo before striking a low drive which stung the palms of Camp in the home goal.
In the first foray from the home side, Camp led a cavalry charge with a quick throw out which saw Paul Green clip a ball into the channel to see Derbyshire head the ball into the advancing run of Andreu, but the Norwich loanee who unable to put Derbyshire clear following a errant pass.
However, the duo did combine to great effect in the Millers’ next attack as Derbyshire superbly flicked on a punt forward and Andreu struck a daisycutter from distance but visitors ‘keeper Ali Al-Habsi was well-stationed to snuff out the danger.
Minutes later, Clarke-Harris superbly left Michael Hector in his wake following a barnstorming run but his work was undone with a misplaced pass to Derbyshire after the home side squandered a two-on-one opportunity before the ex-Oldham striker was in the thick of the action moments later when he came within inches of connecting with Toffolo’s delicious centre from the left flank.
The Millers were looking the most likely and they almost made the breakthrough when good work from Green and Andreu saw Derbyshire with his back to goal but he superbly spun on a sixpence to make the space to fire a curling left-footed effort which was arrowing into the far corner of the goal but Al-Habsi made a superb flying save to keep the score goalless.
However, the Millers were stunned by a phase of play with saw the Royals strike with great potency after turning defence into attack with the blink of an eye.
The home side attacked with menace as Andreu had two shots blocked on the edge of the box, latterly by Andrew Taylor and Oliver Norwood picked up the pieces to float a delightful ball over the Rotherham rearguard and Blackman took advantage of being left one-on-one to control superbly and with the ball sitting up nicely, the inform striker struck a fantastic left-footed half-volley from distance which flew into the roof of the home net giving Camp no chance.
The visitors were visibly lifted by the strike and following Thorpe’s mistake, the visitors attacked with menace and Blackman went from finisher to creator as his eye-of-a-needle pass released Lucas Piazon, who got the ball from under his feet to strike a goalbound effort but Camp stood up tall to parry his shot to safety.
With half-time approaching, Toffolo made something out of nothing to split open the visitors rearguard and following a clever touch from Andreu, Clarke-Harris toepoked a left-footed effort which had Al-Habsi at full stretch as it whistled narrowly past the Royals upright before Blackman had a scuffed effort from the edge of the box saved by Camp at the other end.
Half-time:- Rotherham United 0 Reading 1
Following the restart, the Millers made a lightning start to the second-half as Clarke-Harris won a tussle with Hector to win a corner against the odds.
The home side made it count spectacularly when Andreu floated a delicate centre to the far stick and with both sets of players attracted to the front post, Danny Collins almost sneaked in unnoticed to fire a left-footed effort which fizzed into the ground before bouncing into the heart of the visitors goal.
The home side were sensing an opportunity was on the cards and Andreu’s perfectly-weighted pass presented Clarke-Harris with the chance to advance menacingly into the box and the home frontman looked to stroke the ball into the far corner of the net but Oman stopper Al-Habsi almost second guessed his intentions as he smartly parried the ball clear.
The game was swinging end-to-end and Collins became the first to see yellow for a late lunge on Danny Williams before Toffolo made a superb last-ditch tackle to prevent Blackman from racing through on goal.
Moments later, Taylor was the next to incur the wrath of the referee as he was cautioned for hauling down Derbyshire on the edge of the box following good work by Andreu but Clarke-Harris failed to make them pay from the resultant free-kick when he blasted it into the Royals wall.
Toffolo slightly tarnished an impressive home debut when he saw yellow for a late tackle on Orlando Sa before Rotherham came within a whisker of taking the lead when Andreu’s corner was not dealt with decisively by the visitors rearguard and Clarke-Harris toepoked the ball back into the danger area and Farrend Rawson swung his leg out to divert the ball goalwards from point-blank range but Al-Habsi made a smart save to his right before Derbyshire looked to pounce on the loose ball but he was crowded out, with home appeals for a spot kick falling on deaf ears.
With the game in the balance, the Millers had Camp to thank for retaining parity when Sa’s threaded pass saw sub Matej Vydra get on the wrong side of his marker to fire a low effort which brought the best out of the home stopper before Andreu’s incisive run gave Green a glimpse of goal but his shot was blocked by a retreating defender.
The home fans had their hearts in their mouths late on when Vydra made something out of nothing to fire a dipping effort which had Camp nervously looking over his shoulder as it fizzed narrowly over the bar before Collins bravely put his body on the line to block Blackman’s goalbound effort in the last action of a pulsating clash.
Full-time:- Rotherham United 1 Reading 1
Teams:- Rotherham- Camp, Buxton, Collins, Green, G Ward, Clarke-Harris, Rawson, Thorpe, Andreu (Maguire 85), Derbyshire (Bowery 80), Toffolo. Unused:- Collin, Broadfoot, Ledesma, White, Richardson.
Reading- Al-Habsi, Gunter, Taylor, McShane, Norwood, Hector, Sa, McCleary (Vydra 62), Piazon (Hurtado 62), Blackman, Williams. Unused- Moore, Obita, Fernandez, Cooper, Liburd.
Referee:- M Jones
Attendance:- 9071 (472).