Millers secure safety with narrow win
- Matt Derbyshire toes home at near post
- Lee Frecklington make it 2-0 soon after
- Norwood stunner pulls one back late on
- Rotherham victory secures Millers' safety
An even contest in the first half tipped in the hosts' favour when Matt Derbyshire turned Danny Ward's low cross in at the near post early in the second half. And soon it was 2-0 when Ward provided again with a low ball that was hammered home by Lee Frecklington.
Oliver Norwood pulled one back late in the game, skidding a low 25 yard effort past Martinez to set up a nervy finish for the hosts. But Rotherham held on for all three points.
Rotherham: Martinez, Hunt, Morgan, Broadfoot (Wood 62), Lafferty; Frecklington, Smallwood, Arnason, Pringle; Ward (Green 90), Derbyshire (Bowery 80)
Subs: Collin, Hammill, Wilson, Clarke-Harris.
Reading: Andersen, Gunter, Kelly, Cooper, Hector, Chalobah (Mackie 62), Karacan (c), Norwood, Obita (McCleary 62), Cox, Pogrebnyak (Stacey 82).
Subs: Federici, Pearce, Blackman, Appiah.
Att: 11,123 (210 away)
Mikkel Andersen did well to claim a swirling Ben Pringle cross from the left in an even opening five minutes in front of a packed New York Stadium in Rotherham.
Then Simon Cox raced into a 50:50 with Millers keeper Emi Martinez but the home stopper just got a boot to the ball before Cox and managed to slide in to clear the danger.
But Rotherham came close to the opener when Danny Ward half-volleyed an effort on target only for it to take a deflection off Michael Hector and skid just wide of the bottom right corner of the Royals goal.
Andersen was down well at his near post to mop up a low drive from the Rotherham left wing, then a nice move at the other end saw Gunter feed Cox who flicked it on for Pogrebnyak but the Russian could only find the side netting from a very narrow angle.
There was plenty of commitment from both sides as tackles flew in, then with ten minutes of the half left Chalobah threaded a ball into Cox, who was flagged offside as he controlled it in front of Martinez, preparing to shoot.
Matt Derbyshire arrowed a speculative first time effort harmlessly over with his left boot, then Andersen did enough to push a powerful drive from Lee Frecklington just wide as it swerved through the air towards the Dane between the sticks.
Two minutes of injury time were signalled just before Hector fouled Ward 20 yards from goal, giving the hosts one final first half chance. Pringle drilled it into the wall and Derbyshire sliced the rebound well wide.
Good work from Gunter down the right saw him toe the ball back to Norwood who crossed into the box. Cox tried to hook a right boot around the ball and volley it goalwards but it cannoned off two Rotherham bodies and away from the Millers goal.
Then, with six minutes of the second half played, Rotherham took the lead to the delight of the home fans. A long ball forward fell to the feet of Ward, who crossed low into the box where Derbyshire toed the ball home at the near post before Andersen could intercept it on the slide.
Cox then wriggled free of his man inside the Rotherham area but couldn't find the space to pull the trigger. He instead inched to the byline to loop a cross in, it was headed clear to Karacan who lofted another ball towards the far post, but Martinez was able to claim this one.
It wasn't long before they had a second and it came from a similar position. A low cross from the left from the foot of Ward once more was turned home by Frecklington this time, less than six yards out at the far post.
Steve Clarke introduced Jamie Mackie and Garath McCleary on the hour and Pogrebnyak's deep cross almost picked the latter out, only for Laffetry to get back and concede a corner which was easily dealt with by Steve Evans' men.
McCleary led a break, skipping past two before eventually being halted 25 yards out. Then McCleary turned and scurried forward again minutes later, getting his shot away this time but it was charged down before it could trouble Martinez.
It took a superb save from the Arsenal loanee keeper to deny Norwood, who took aim from nearly 40 yards out and the ball was heading for the top right corner before Martinez leapt to his left to palm it just wide of the target.
Norwood then slid in to win possession in the middle of the park and Cox tried his luck with a speculative effort from distance, only to see it sail well wide.
Then, with less than four minutes left on the clock, Norwood took a pop at goal from 25 yards out and beat Martinez with a right-footed effort that skidded inside the left post to pull one back.
And in the last of the ninety minutes, Mackie turned his man and crossed low into the box where McCleary missed his kick in looking to steer it goalwards from eight yards out. Rotherham suddenly faced a nervy five minutes of injury time.
Martinez gobbled up a Mackie volley as Reading threw everything at their opponents in an attempt to spoil the party, but the final whistle sounded and Millers fans poured onto the pitch in celebrating survival.