On-the-whistle report: Reading 3 Rotherham United 0

Michael Smith in action at Reading. Picture by Jim BrailsfordMichael Smith in action at Reading. Picture by Jim Brailsford
Michael Smith in action at Reading. Picture by Jim Brailsford
ROTHERHAM United were left shaking their heads in disbelief after slipping to a 3-0 defeat at Championship leaders Reading.

The Millers played the home side off the park in the opening period and had clear chances to score after the break.

But the Royals gave them a lesson in taking opportunities as Yakou Meite struck once in each half and Lucas Joao added a late penalty to send the visitors back to South Yorkshire empty-handed.

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At 1-0 down, George Hirst and Freddie Ladapo could have equalised for Rotherham but were denied by a goalline block and stunning save respectively.

Rotherham, urged on by Paul Warne now the manager was out of quarantine, produced a first half of almost total dominance yet found themselves a goal down at the interval.

The home team had no answer to the Millers' pressing and slick passing exchanges and Warne's men spent nearly all of the opening 45 minutes in the opposition's half.

There's a reason Reading went into the contest having conceded only one goal and Rotherham, despite their superiority, found their sights of goal were limited.

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A beautiful touch and pass by Joe Mattock in the 24th minute set up Smith but the recalled striker's shot was blocked.

Smith was involved again nine minutes later as Jamie Lindsay's cross was parried by goalkeeper Rafael straight into the Rotherham man's body.

The ball could have gone anywhere, including the net, and the Royals were relieved to see it go out for a goal-kick.

The sucker-punch came four minutes before the break when Ovie Ojaria crossed from the left and, amid suspicions of offside, Meite had time and space to shoot low through the legs of Jamal Blackman.

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It was a gross injustice after the way the Millers had taken the game to the table-toppers.

Warne had made four changes to the team that had earned a 1-1 draw at Nottingham Forest in midweek.

Left-back Mattock was back after a period of self-isolation and there was a first start for right winger Florian Jozefzoon, the final arrival of the transfer window on

Shaun MacDonald returned in the holding midfield role he has performed so well this season and Smith was the lone striker.

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Billy Jones, Mickel Miller, Matt Crooks and Ladapo dropped out of the side.

Five minutes after the break, the goal opened up for Jozefzoon as he danced into the penalty area but the attacker took the wrong option, sending a short pass behind Jamie Linsday when he should have tried to beat the keeper.

Just after the hour mark, substitute Hirst almost equalised within a minute of coming on. His shot was heading in only for Liam Moore to clear off the line.

The Millers threatened again on 68 minutes when Wes Harding took aim and fired inches over from outside the box.

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Sub Ladapo thought he had levelled matters when he did superbly to twist, turn and get his 75th-minute shot away but he was denied by a flying Rafael save.

Six minutes later, after a Tomas Esteves long-ranger had brought a fingertip stop from Blackman, Meite settled the contest with an acrobatic effort.

Rotherham, who are 18th in the table, continued to press and a late Dan Barlaser corner was headed off target by Smith, but the game was over and so was the Millers' unbeaten away record.

Only a desperate Blackman save stopped Omar Richards adding a stoppage-time third from a free-kick before Michael Ihiekwe fouled Joao and the Portuguese forward got up to score from the spot.

Goals: Meite 41, 79, Joao pen 90+3 (Reading).

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Reading (4-2-3-1): Rafael; Tomas Esteves, Michael Morrison, Liam Moore, Omar Richards; Andy Rinomhota, Josh Laurent; Yakou Meite, Alfa Semedo, Ovie Ejaria (Michael Olise 66); George Puscas (Lucas Joao 66). Subs not used: Luke Southwood, Tom McIntyre, Lewis Gibson, Dejan Tetek, Sone Aluko.

Rotherham (4-1-4-1): Jamal Blackman; Wes Harding (Freddie Ladapo 71), Michael Ihiekwe, Richard Wood, Joe Mattock; Shaun MacDonald; Florian Jozefzoon (Matt Olosunde 64), Dan Barlaser, Jamie Lindsay (George Hirst 62), Ben Wiles; Michael Smith. Subs not used: Viktor Johansson, Billy Jones, Matt Crooks, Kieran Sadlier.

Referee: Matthew Donohue (Lancashire).