SCOTT Marshall admitted Reading FC paid the price for missing a glut of first-half chances in their 1-1 draw at Rotherham United.

Royals – who handed a league debut to 20-year-old centre-back Tom McIntyre – led through Sam Baldock’s ninth-minute strike in Saturday’s relegation six pointer.

But the visitors failed to capitalise on a string of further opportunities for Baldock, John Swift and Garath McCleary before half-time.

Millers fought back strongly after the break and denied Royals all three points through Joe Mattock’s scruffy 90thy-minute equaliser.

The draw lifted Reading out of the bottom three, but they are now without a win in six matches and have picked up just one victory in their last 19 games away from home.

Caretaker boss Marshall admitted: "We could have been out of sight at the end of the first half. You knew, with one goal in it, it made it a bit cagey.

"The chances we'd missed and how well we played was probably in the back of our minds a little bit.

“Not taking those chances and getting that two-goal cushion meant we had to be really brave in possession of the ball in the second half and try to control it that way.

"We expected a right scrap at the end. The style Rotherham have and the pressure they put you under in the box, at 1-0 it was always going to be a tough five minutes towards the end, and so it proved.

"We worked tremendously hard throughout the 95 minutes, but the pressure was building and the balls were coming into the box, which they filled with numbers.

"It was really tough to deal with all afternoon, but we showed some real quality at times and created some great chances earlier in the game.

“But we came away with a good point.”

Academy graduate McIntyre was called-up after Tiago Ilori became the fourth central defender to pick up an injury after Liam Moore, Paul McShane and John O’Shea.

The Scotland Under 20 international impressed alongside Tyler Blackett but was denied a clean sheet on his debut by Rotherham’s late leveller.

Marshall continued: "We were really dangerous on the break, there were some really good counter attacks and we would probably have like to establish a bit more possession and control of the ball in the second half.

"That would have been my preferred method of defence, keeping the ball and moving them around a little bit better.

"But the conditions made it difficult to maintain that, not to mention the opposition who didn't make it easy for us either.

"They are good at what they do in terms of putting the ball in the box and putting you under pressure. And it was a big physical challenge. So I'm happy with the spirit we showed under pressure.

"You can't relax for a minute. We expected a barrage and we conceded one corner too many in the end.

"So we'll take the point from today and work towards the next one at home to Middlesbrough."

Marshall will continue to take training this week while Royals continue their search for a new manager to replace Paul Clement.

The club hopes to make an appointment before Saturday’s home clash against promotion-chasing Middlesbrough (3pm ko), with Jose Manuel Gomes the current favourite with the bookmaker.

The 48-year-old is in charge of Rio Ave in Portugal amid rumours Royals have already made contact with his representatives.

Bolton manager and former Reading captain Phil Parkinson is now the second favourite for the job followed by Luis Castro and then interim boss Marshall.

And Royals U23 coach Marshall says he is loving the experience: "I enjoyed it on Saturday, the nerves of first-team football jangling.

“It was good to see a dressing room focussed and ready to work for each other. I enjoyed being around all that."