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Rotherham United 0-1 Reading FC: Match Report

Our match report Jack Simpson gives his verdict on a narrow win for the Royals.

Lynne Cameron/Getty Images

In what many considered to be a must win game against arguably the worst team in the whole of the Championship, Reading won 1-0 at the New York Stadium against Rotherham on Saturday.

Substitute Paul McShane got the winner in the 86th minute of the game, with the centre back poking home a cross shot that Rotherham goalkeeper Lee Camp failed to deal with.

However that is not the full story, with Reading goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi keeping his side level in the first half making some wonderful saves, first tipping wide a curling effort from Joe Newell, and then pushing wide an effort from Jon Taylor.

In the second half Al Habsi was at it again, making a brilliant save to deny Richard Wood from almost point blank range, after a long thrown in from Greg Halford. The Omani then made some brilliant blocks to deny Danny Ward one on one throughout the second half.

Garath McCleary then had a penalty saved, while John Swift hit the bar with a brilliant effort. A frustrating afternoon was changed in the blink of an eye, when McShane popped up with the winner.

An unbelievable performance from Al-Habsi

What can I say about this man, a brilliant performance from the Omani international who made some brilliant saves throughout the game and kept his side in it when called upon.

The save in the second half, when he denied Richard Wood from point blank range from a thrown in, was for me one of the best saves that I've ever seen live at a game. The save rightly got a massive cheer from the 644 Reading fans who made the trip to South Yorkshire.

It is also rightly deserved that Al Habsi got man of the match for his outstanding and wonderful goalkeeping display.

Kelly is not quite ready for the Championship

There was a big surprise before kick off, when it was announced that 20 year old Liam Kelly would be making his first league start for the Royals.

The youngster must have been buzzing with delight at hearing he would be starting, but in truth this was just not the game for Kelly.

Rotherham were playing long balls into the Reading penalty area and the Royals were lacking a physical presence in front of the back four and someone who could compete in the air.

Which is why in my view, it was the correct decision by Jaap Stam to take Kelly off in the 28th minute and replace him with Paul McShane, allowing Joey van den Berg to move further forward.

From then on the Royals looked much more solid at the back.

With a bit more experience and guidance from Stam, I'm sure Kelly will be playing in the Championship week in, week out in no time.

More shots on target please

In total, Reading had 24 shots on goal, but only five on target

This needs to improve and it needs to improve soon. There will be times against the better teams where Reading will be dominating, but will end up dropping points or even come away with nothing, because they simply cannot convert chances that they create.

The only way that this will change is if they get more shots on target, increasing the chance of the ball hitting the back of the net.

Yes Swift was unlucky with his effort that hit the bar, which on another day could have nestled in the back of the net. However, the lack of shots on target, does concern me and needs to change as soon as possible.

McShane bailed out McCleary

What a huge sigh of relief for the Reading fans, when Paul McShane converted his effort in the 86th minute.

But even more so would be Garath McCleary, the winger whose spot kick was saved by Lee Camp could have easily cost his team three points and things could have been a lot worse, if it wasn't for Al Habsi.

However, the penalty save sparked the Royals into life and for the next 30 minutes or so Reading dominated, creating chance after chance, which did eventually lead to the goal.

It was therefore good to see the Royals persevere when it looked like it just wasn't going to be their day.