Royals held by rallying RotherhamReading stretched their unbeaten run to five in the league, but were held to a draw by Rotherham in Neil Redfearn's first home game in charge of the Millers at the New York Stadium this evening.
Nick Blackman had handed the Royals a first half lead with a wonderful top corner finish from 25 yards out, following a pinpoint pass from Oliver Norwood. But Rotherham restored parity within minutes of the second period, Danny Collins hooking home from a corner. Both teams sought a winner, but the Royals were forced to settle for a point
Royals boss Steve Clarke made three changes to the side that beat Charlton Athletic at Madejski Stadium on Saturday, freshening his starting eleven up by introducing Andrew Taylor, Danny Williams and Garath McCleary for Jordan Obita, Aaron Tshibola and Ola John.
Matej Vydra had recovered sufficiently from injury to take a place on the substitutes' bench, while Paolo Hurtado was also amongst the squad - and Rowan Liburd kept his place amongst the replacements.
It took only 30 seconds for the Royals to test Lee Camp's handling, Garath McCleary arrowing a low effort on target only for the Rotherham keeper to deal with it relatively comfortably.
Steve Clarke's men were enjoying all the possession as the hosts put men behind the ball in the early throes - but Al Habsi had to be alert to gobble up a hurried short from Tony Andreu with ten minutes played.
It took a foul from Harry Toffolo on the edge of the area to stop Chris Gunter making progress into the box after a good overlapping run down the right, but Norwood's free kick was too pacy for anyone to get a head to.
The Millers began to come into the game and twice the final ball was missing when it seemed they might be in a good position to attack. Yet it took good judgement from Al Habsi to gather a testing cross cleanly as Jonson Clarke-Harris looked to sneak in to get a vital touch inside the six-yard box.
And the Omani stopper was at full stretch to turn a good 20-yard effort from Matt Derbyshire around his right post after the striker had pivoted and arced an effort towards the top left corner.
After 25 minutes, the home side were denied by a double defensive block, McShane and Hector standing in the way of two Andreu efforts...and within seconds Reading were down the other end to open the scoring.
Norwood gracefully launched a stunning long-range pass from inside the away side's defensive third, finding Blackman with a yard on his marker. Blackman took one touch to control it and then, without hesitation, he thundered a wonderful left-footed effort past the helpless Camp from 25 yards out. His eleventh of the season had opened the scoring in awesome fashion.
Paul Green's hopeful header sailed well wide, but Reading were looking like the team most likely to score next. Blackman threaded a delightful ball into the feet of Piazon who controlled and shot only to see Camp palm his effort away instinctively.
The Royals were quick to everything, closing down in midfield so quickly they weren't allowing Rotherham any chance to think with the ball at their feet. However, a warning shot was fired five minutes before the break when Clarke-Harris arrowed just wide of the bottom right corner.
Blackman, oozing with confidence breezed past four or five in midfield before drawing a foul before the half-time whistle could sound and he scufffed a shot goalwards moments later only for Camp to smother it low to his left. But Reading led and deservedly so at the break.
Half-time: Rotherham 0 Reading 1
However, Rotherham began the second half with the prefect response. Hector did well to see a cross out for a corner which was floated into the box, and Danny Collins hooked a left foot around it to make it 1-1 as he directed it past Al Habsi and high into the Royals net.
Blackman couldn't get the power he needed to a header after Sa's cross aimed to serve up a second for the in-form frontman, but it took a great save from Al Habsi to deny the Millers a lead when Clarke-Harris raced in behind and rifled low towards the bottom right corner.
Suddenly, the game opened right up to become an end to end encounter. Blackman teed up McCleary but he couldn't get a clean strike on the ball to trouble Camp, while at the other end Rotherham were looking to exploit some gaps which had appeared in the Reading half.
Paolo Hurtado and Matej Vydra were brought off the bench as Steve Clarke looked to find the breakthrough. But a slip from McShane in controlling a long ball forced Taylor to concede a free kick on the edge of the Royals area. Thankfully, Clarke-Harris' effort was charged down by the Royals wall and his follow-up was skied high into the home supporters.
With 16 minutes left on the clock, Hector conceded a corner which between a cluster of Royals bodies Reading saw clear after a scramble near the visitors' goalline. Then an Andreu overhead flew harmlessly over the crossbar.
Eight minutes remained when a superb cross from Blackman almost found Sa in the middle, only for an offside flag to hand possession back to the hosts. Then Vydra twisted and turned past two men before placing a great right-footed effort towards the right post - but Camp pushed it wide with a sprawling left arm.
Blackman saw a free kick charged down by the wall, but time was beginning to run out with the game locked at 1-1. Vydra and Sa combined well for the latter to see a shot blocked after a neat one-two, then Vydra almost set Blackman free only for Millers defenders to get back behind the ball and retrieve the situation.
Then Vydra had a go himself, unleashing a powerful right-footed drive in injury time that whistled inches over the crossbar. And Blackman wove into the box in the final moments to see one final effort repelled by the Rotherham defence.
Full-time: Rotherham 1 Reading 1
Rotherham United: Camp, Buxton, Toffolo, Collins, Green, Ward, Thorpe, Rawson, Clarke-Harris, Andreu (Maguire 85), Derbyshire (Bowery 80).
Subs: Collin, Broadfoot, Ledesma, White, Richardson.
Goal: Collins (48).
Yellow: Collins, Toffalo.
Reading: Al-Habsi, Gunter, Taylor, McShane (c), Hector, Norwood, Williams, Piazon (Hurtado 62), McCleary (Vydra 62), Blackman, Sa.
Subs: Moore, Obita, Cooper, Fernandez, Liburd.
Goal: Blackman (25).
Attendance: 9,071 (472 away)
Referee: Jeremy Simpson