Rotherham United fell to a narrow defeat after a Hal Robson-Kanu goal in the second half gave Reading a 1-0 victory at the Madjeski Stadium.
In a close contest which neither side dominated, the Royals pinched the points when the Wales international drilled a low strike beyond Lee Camp from the edge of the area, in a game that was littered with yellow cards.
The Millers again showed their battling qualities, but couldn’t breakdown a stubborn Reading defence with their best opportunity falling to Richard Wood whose header was palmed away by Ali Al Habsi.
Manager Neil Warnock made three changes from the side that was beaten 2-0 against Burnley on Saturday.
Suspended duo Wood and Joe Mattock returned to the back four, with Lloyd Doyley dropping out, whilst Greg Halford was pushed into midfield.
Danny Ward missed out through concussion sustained at Turf Moor which paved the way for a return for Grant Ward, whilst Chris Burke didn’t make the matchday squad.
With Halford playing on the right of midfield he was given an early opportunity to use his long throw on five minutes. The ball was flicked to the back post where Joe Newell was waiting but after several attempts to clear Reading finally scrambled the ball away.
The Millers were much brighter in the opening 10 minutes with Newell and Paul Green exchanging passes on the edge of the area, before the ball was played out to Mattock, but his dangerous centre was hooked clear by the hosts.
Reading’s first attack almost produced the first goal. After good work from Ola John won the home side a corner, the resulting cross from Oliver Norwood was headed towards goal by Yann Kermorgant, but Newell chested the ball away off the line.
Soon after Robson-Kanu broke down the right and his pinpoint centre was smashed wide on the volley by Kermorgant.
Back came the Millers and they forced Al Habsi into the first save of note after 21 minutes, when Wood’s header towards goal was superbly clawed away by the Royals’ stopper at full stretch.
Newell then fed Mattock who sprinted clear down the left but his cross from the deadball line was cut out at the near post.
The Millers were doing a good job at keeping their opponents at arms length resulting in John trying his luck from 30 yards, with a shot which flew harmlessly wide.
On 24 minutes Jonson Clarke-Harris saw yellow for a cynical trip as Reading looked to attack following Grant Ward picking up a card earlier in the game.
As the half hour approached it was the Millers that carried the greater threat but they were given a warning when Robson-Kanu’s cross was headed towards goal by Stephen Quinn, but Camp easily held.
On 36 minutes captain Kirk Broadfoot had to be alert when Kermorgant’s knockdown almost found John, but the Scottish international coolly nodded back to Camp under pressure.
Halford was the second name in the referee’s book after an aerial collision with Jake Cooper which left the Reading man needing treatment. Then Richie Smallwood joined him almost straight away when referee Mr. Johnson deemed that the former Middlesbrough man had dived in the area, after he picked up the loose ball following a Ward shot.
The stream of yellow cards continued when just before half-time Wood was cautioned after another aerial challenge this time on Robson-Kanu.
Reading 0 v 0 Rotherham United
The Millers forced an early corner at the start of the second half when a good run by Frazer Richardson saw him find Ward and his cross was cut out at the near post.
Newell’s centre then found Broadfoot at the back post but he glanced his header just wide.
Halford’s throws continued to carry a threat and on 52 minutes his flat delivery flashed across the area before Reading eventually cleared their lines.
Reading’s best move of the game carved out a half chance just before the hour mark. Neat build up play down the left between Michael Hector and John saw a pass into Kermorgant, who laid the ball to the onrushing Norwood but he blasted wide from 22 yards.
Hector was the first Reading player in the book after he upended Halford as the versatile operator surged forward down the right. The resulting free-kick from Clarke-Harris rattled into the wall and the striker then curled the re-bound wide of the far post.
In a tight encounter it was the home team that finally broke the deadlock. Sub Deniss Rakels made an instant impact when his low cross into the area wasn’t cleared by Green, allowing Robson-Kanu to drill the loose ball into the bottom corner.
In a bid to get back into the game Millers boss Warnock made a double change bringing on Leon Best for Clarke-Harris, and Green made way for debutant Jerome Thomas.
The Millers returned to the front foot in search of an equaliser and after Halford found Smallwood on the angle, he lifted the ball into area but Ward’s header sailed just wide.
Reading looked dangerous with sub Garath McCleary’s surging run down the left wing, but the Millers negotiated his low centre into the area.
Wood had to receive treatment to a cut above his eye, playing out the final five minutes with a bandage around his forehead.
But the Millers couldn’t find a way through and Reading held out for maximum points.
Reading 1 v 0 Rotherham United
Reading: Al Habsi; Gunter, McShane, Obita, Cooper, Norwood (Rakels 65), Hector, Quinn, Robson-Kanu, John (McCleary 73), Kermorgant.
Subs not used: Bond, Evans, Ferdinand, Piazon, Cox.
Rotherrham: Camp; Richardson, Broadfoot, Wood, Mattock, Halford (Derbyshire 77), Green (Thomas 72), Smallwood, Newell, G. Ward, Clarke-Harris (Best 72).
Subs not used: Kenny, Kelly, Yates, Shinnie.
Referee: K. Johnson
Attendance: 13,504 (271)