Reading were so very close to getting a huge three points in their fight against relegation, but a late Rotherham United equaliser denied them just that on Saturday afternoon. Sam Baldock’s opener gave Reading an early first-half lead, only for Joe Mattock to grab a 90th minute equaliser.
Scott Marshall made a few changes to the side that lost 2-0 to Sheffield United, the most notable being a first league start for academy graduate Tom McIntyre. He came in for the injured Tiago Ilori - the latest in a long line of unfit defenders that also includes Liam Moore, John O’Shea and Paul McShane.
Elsewhere, Sam Baldock and John Swift replaced Danny Loader and Marc McNulty, with Reading changing shape away from the 4-4-2 that Marshall deployed in his opening match.
It was the returning Baldock that would grab the Royals’ first goal under the interim coach, and after just nine minutes. Josh Sims played the striker in, and Baldock beat the ‘keeper for his fifth of the season.
Reading were much-improved on the United match, and would go close a few more times in an entertaining first half. John Swift, Garath McCleary and Sam Baldock all went close, but couldn’t double our advantage.
The home side improved after the break, and forced Anssi Jaakkola into some key saves to keep the score at 1-0. Down the other end, Josh Sims came closest for the visitors, hitting the post after Swift’s assist.
However, it would be Rotherham who got a crucial second goal of the day, through Mattock. The Miller had a 90th-minute corner from which the ball was tucked over the line.
On the whole, it was so near yet so far for Reading. The improvements on late Saturday were noticeable, so credit to Scott Marshall for those. We finished the day with 20 shots (5 on target) - a decent return for a team that didn’t hit the target at all against Sheffield United.
However, the lack of clinical finishing and an inability to see the game out are hallmarks of this side, and won’t be changed overnight. We’ll hopefully have a few players back from injury for the home match against Middlesbrough, but we won’t know till closer to the time.
In the mean time, look out for our player ratings and more reaction to the 1-1 draw at Rotherham United, and keep the faith!