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Match Reports

Reading vs Rotherham

23 February 2016

Hal strike seals scrappy win

Hal Robson-Kanu's stylish second half strike secured all three points for Brian McDermott's men in a scrappy, disjointed affair against Neil Warnock's Rotherham this evening.

The decisive goal came with a little more than 20 minutes of the game remaining, substitute Deniss Rakels scurrying down the right side of the box to cut the ball back, Kermorgant getting a toe to it to tee up Robson-Kanu and Hal stroking the ball effortlessly into the bottom left corner with his left foot.

Royals boss Brian McDermott made just one change to his last league eleven, swapping Ola John with Lucas Piazon in the starting line-up as the only alteration to the team who began our goalless affair against Burnley ten days previously. Yann Kermorgant started up front after being cup-tied against West Brom at the weekend, while George Evans, Deniss Rakels and Simon Cox also earned places on the bench.

After a tepid start to the game, Ola John forced a corner with a deep cross looking for Kermorgant. The Royals striker then got his head to the set piece but Joe Newell chested it wide of the right post and behind for another corner.

Moments later, Kermorgant got another chance. This time Hal Robson-Kanu escaped his marker down the right and whipped a good cross into Kermorgant who volleyed first time wide of the same upright.

Ali Al Habsi had to be alert, diving low to his right to claw Richard Wood's header off his line after a well-worked set piece from Neil Warnock's men had seen a sequence of headed one-twos present an opportunity to the United striker.

Then at the other end, John cut in from the left wing to take aim from distance, arrowing a sweetly struck effort just over the crossbar from 22 yards out.

And a good turn from Hal Robson-Kanu allowed him to find Gunter bursting down the right side on half an hour. His cross was met by the diving head of Quinn but he was too far out to cause Camp any real trouble, the United keeper smothering it calmly in the end.

Obita's floated ball into the box was nodded down well by Kermorgant for John, but Kirk Broadfoot covered well to nod it back to his keeper under pressure on the edge of the six yard box.

United were disrupting the flow of the game well, putting men behind the ball and picking up five first half cautions in the process, the penultimate of which came for a dive inside the box as Richie Smallwood looked for a penalty.

Reading, as a result, were being frustrated and Robson-Kanu dragged an effort wide after he's turned inside his marker to find a yard to pull the trigger with his left foot in injury time.

Half-time: Reading 0 Rotherham 0

In the opening minute of the second half, some lovely skill from Robson-Kanu found Gunter on the overlap and the full-back's cross was headed goalwards but wide by the rising Kermorgant in the middle.

Broadfoot headed harmlessly wide at the other end after he rose highest to meet a corner, but Reading were the side looking the more likely to break the deadlock and Norwood's right-footed delivery had to be hacked behind for a corner.

Neat footwork from John saw him cross low in to Kermorgant who controlled the ball and teed up Norwood for a drive from 22 yards, but the midfielder's effort fizzed wide of the bottom left corner.

Brian McDermott made a change, bringing Deniss Rakels off the bench for Oliver Norwood and it paid immediate dividends. The Latvian scuttled down the right to cut the ball back for a stretching Kermorgant to toe into the path of Robson-Kanu. And the winger placed a tidy left-footed finish low inside the left post to give the hosts the all-important lead.

HRK did very well to almost create another opening moments later, bustling past his man on the right side of the box he pulled a low ball back that deflected into the path of Quinn, but the Irish international arrowed high into the stands from range.

Neil Warnock brought on Jerome Thomas, Matt Derbyshire and Leon Best, while McCleary replaced John for Reading - and with 13 minutes left Ward headed wide as Al Habsi trotted across to watch it drop off target for a goal kick.

Hector drove a speculative left-footed effort wide, McCleary scampered to the byline only to see his low cross cut out at the near post, then Rakels almost got in behind only to be stopped in his tracks by an offside flag.

Rakels glanced a header goalwards after good work from McCleary down the right, but it cannoned into a Rotherham body and spun behind for a corner.

Four minutes of additional time were signalled as McCleary chipped a cross towards Kermorgant at the far post, but Camp gathered in the forward's header with ease. And after Thomas' scuffed effort bobbled wide, the referee sounded the final whistle and Reading had all three points in the bag.

Full-time: Reading 1 Rotherham 0

Reading: Al Habsi, Gunter, Obita, McShane (c), Cooper, Hector, Norwood (Rakels 65), Quinn, John (McCleary 73), Robson-Kanu, Kermorgant.
Subs: Bond, Ferdinand, Evans, Piazon, Cox.
Yellow: Hector

Rotherham: Camp, Halford (Derbyshire 79), Richardson, Broadfoot (c), Newell, Green (Best 73), Smallwood, Clarke-Harris (Thomas 73), Ward, Mattock, Wood.
Subs: Kenny, Kelly, Yates, Shinnie.
Yellow: Ward, Clarke-Harris, Halford, Smallwood, Wood.

Referee: Mr K Johnson
Att: 13,504 (271 away)

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