REPORT: Reading FC 2-1 Rotherham United – Grabban and Swift spare Royals’ blushes

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Lewis Grabban bagged his first goal at Madejski Stadium (Pic by Steve Smyth)

Reading came from behind to beat relegated Rotherham and strengthen their grip on a play-off spot, thanks to second-half goals from former Millers Lewis Grabban and John Swift.

Royals fought back after falling behind in the first half through a Tom Adeyemi goal from close range as a sweet Grabban volley and a Swift tap in secured the points.

Having played and beaten Aston Villa just 48 hours earlier, Jaap Stam made four changes to his side.

Two-goal hero Joseph Mendes missed out on the squad completely while Liam Kelly, Lewis Grabban and Adrian Popa all dropped to the bench. In came Yakou Meite, for his first Reading start, alongside experienced trio Roy Beerens, Garath McCleary and Yann Kermorgant.

Millers captain Danny Ward mustered the first effort on goal but his long-range effort was comfortably saved by Ali Al-Habsi at his near post.

McCleary then floated in a corner to the edge of the box which was met sweetly by left-back Jordan Obita, but his shot went wide of the target.

Royals looked shaky at the back early on with Liam Moore twice miskicking clearances and the home side were duly punished.

Ward’s ball in from the left found Carlton Morris, whose point-blank range header was saved by Al-Habsi only for the rebound to be bundled in by Adeyemi to give Rotherham, who had only picked up one point on their travels this season, an unlikely lead.

Yakou Meite made his first Reading start

Reading’s best first half chances all fell to young French forward Meite. The pick of the lot saw a Meite volley from a tight angle parried away by Millers keeper Richard O’Donnell and the rebound was blocked away by Semi Ajayi to safety before the onrushing Kermorgant and John Swift could pounce.

Just moments later Meite’s deep cross almost caught the Millers keeper by surprise as it curled towards the back post but O’Donnell recovered to tip it behind for a Reading corner.

Chris Gunter then whipped in a low cross from the right but there were no Reading players to tap home. An effort from Obita’s corner late on in the first period was cleared off the line by Joe Mattock too as Royals headed into the break with a one goal deficit.

Reading boss Jaap Stam opted to make a change at half-time, bringing on Liam Kelly in place of Meite. Royals immediately threatened with Beerens’ delivery from the corner finding Yann Kermorgant, but his header under pressure went wide.

O’Donnell then proceeded to make a couple of fine saves to keep Reading waiting for an equaliser. Firstly, Obita flicked Beerens’ cross goalwards and O’Donnell got down to his right to palm the ball away before a lofted McCleary cross was met powerfully by Royals top scorer Kermorgant but the Millers keeper produced a fantastic reflex stop to tip the ball over the bar for a corner.

However Reading were eventually rewarded for their second-half pressure on 66 minutes as substitute Grabban, only two minutes after coming on, fired home a volley against his former club to set up an exciting finish at the Madejski.

Kermorgant, with Reading going for all three points, headed straight at O’Donnell following Gunter’s cross just before sending in a ball of his own towards Danny Williams but the Frenchman’s delivery was too high for Williams to make any real contact.

With only 11 minutes remaining, Royals took the lead following a neat passing move which saw Williams and Gunter link up to give Swift a tap in, also against his former team.

Danny Williams thundered in a long-range effort in stoppage time as Reading held on to take the win and move up to third in the Championship table, for a few hours at least, and more importantly go six points clear of seventh.

READING (ratings out of 10): Al-Habsi 7; Gunter (c) 7, Moore 6, Blackett 7, Obita 7; Swift 7.5, Williams 7.5; Meite 7 (Kelly 45 8), Beerens 7 (Grabban 65 8.5*), McCleary 7 (Popa 90 n/a); Kermorgant 7.
Subs not used: Jaakkola, Oxford, Ilori, Evans.
Goals: Grabban (66), Swift (79)

ROTHERHAM: O’Donnell; Fisher (Clarke-Harris 74), Ajayi, Wood, Mattock; Smallwood, Adeyemi (Yates 83), Vaulks; Taylor, Ward (c), Morris (Newell 58).
Subs not used: Purrington, Bilboe, Belaid, Bray.
Goal: Adeyemi (19)
Yellow cards: Vaulks (17), Mattock (85)

Referee: Christopher Kavanagh
Attendance: 16,711 (inc. 156 away)

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