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16:57 7th November 2009

Report: Church earns a point

Reading 1 (Church 47)
Ipswich Town 1 (Stead 9)

The Royals were forced to settle for a draw at Madejski Stadium, as Ipswich Town stole a point despite another hard fought performance from Brendan Rodgers' men.

It could have been worse as Jon Stead poked home from a David Wright long throw early on, but the Royals rallied in the second half - with Simon Church levelling proceedings with his first goal on home turf.

That seemed to spark us into life and it was Roy Keane's side who rode their luck and survived a number of late scares, as Church came within inches of a brace as his snap shot cannoned off the underside of the crossbar.

The visit of Blackpool after the international break will be the next opportunity for Reading to break their home hoodoo, and if they keep producing performances of this calibre then surely the results will come.

Reading (4-4-2): Federici; Tabb, Bertrand, Ingimarsson (c), Pearce; Sigurdsson (Kebe 76), McAnuff, Matejovsky, Howard (Cisse 76), Church, Rasiak (Long 61)
Subs: Hamer, Kebe, O'Dea, Cisse, Gunnarsson.

Ipswich: Begovic; Delany, Rosenior, Bruce, Wright, Walters, Edwards (Edwards 59), Leadbitter, Quinn (Colback 79), Priskin, Stead (Counago 63)
Subs: Lee-Barrett, Wickham, Brown, Healy, Colback, Counago, Peters

Attendance: 19,053 (2,427 away fans)

Ref: D Whitestone

First Half
It was an uninspiring opening ten minutes from both sides as neither team showed any of the confidence that last week's duo of wins may have created.

Someone needed to take the initiative and unfortunately for Brendan Rodgers men it was Ipswich, as they took the lead after nine minutes. David Wright's long, looping throw wasn't dealt with by the Royals and after Ivar Ingimarsson only half cleared the dropping ball, Jonathan Stead lay in wait to toe a volley over Federici and into the net.

Reading needed a catalyst and got it in the form of Jobi McAnuff, who was named the club's 'Player of the Month' for October shortly before kick off. The diminutive winger showed a brilliant turn of pace to see off Wright down the right wing, before sending in a teasing cross that only narrowly evaded the head of Grzegorz Rasiak. It did drop kindly at the feet of Gylfi Sigurdsson, but the young midfielder's shot was deflected wide and away from danger.

That short, sharp burst was all that was needed to inject some life into the home side, as Brian Howard bounded forward moments later before crashing a 25-yard drive against the crossbar.

Sigurdsson was again involved after 27 minutes as he blazed a long range effort into the travelling fans, whilst at the other end Tamas Priskin forced Federici into a diving save from a similar distance.

Six minutes before the break the Royals came within inches of levelling the scores. McAnuff once more broke down the right hand side, and from a deep position floated another intricate cross to the far post - but from a tight angle Rasiak could only nod inches wide of the post .

It was from the wide areas that the home side were finding the most joy, as just before the break Jay Tabb's technically sound cross was flicked over the bar by Simon Church.

Second Half
At times in the last few months it felt like the Royals were cursed in front of goal at the Madejski Stadium, and as the second half began it looked as if that run would continue - as an almighty goalmouth scramble saw the ball ping everywhere around the six yard box, but somehow avoid the Ipswich net.

Indeed Simon Church would have felt as aggrieved as anyone with his recent luck, but all this was set to change just 2 minutes after the break as the young forward levelled up the scores.

A delicate chip into the six-yard box from Rasiak caused confusion amongst the Tractorboys defence, allowing Pearce to contest a header, Sigurdsson to drive back across the face of goal and Church to deflect ome from close range with 'keeper Asmir Begovic stranded.

Compared to its earlier counterpart the second half was easier on the eye, with two of the division's lower placed sides defying their standings with some end to end football.

Tamas Priskin lost his marker in the area after 52 minutes but could only head Rosenior's cross straight at Adam Federici, whilst at the other end McAnuff only just missed out on his second goal in the space of a week as he lashed wide from 18-yards.

Federici pulled off a superb reaction save to deny Damien Delany after a smartly executed corner routine from Roy Keane's side, whilst again McAnuff was the talisman for Reading just after the hour mark, as he fizzed a shot narrowly off target from Brian Howard's knock back.

Howard himself tested Begovic with a dipping half volley with 70 minutes on the clock, whilst Jay Tabb wasn't too far off a moment of magic five minutes later as he jinked past three Town players before slicing an effort wide.

Breathtaking as that was, the real drama was yet to come. A deflected Jimmy Kebe cross rolled tantalisingly to the touchline, and as Shane Long used his fresh legs to meet it he was chopped down by a back-tracking Ipswich defender.

Barely had the penalty screams left the lips of the Madejski support when Church controlled twelve yards from goal, before elegantly spinning his marker and crashing an effort off the underside of the crossbar.

It should have been a penalty and then the fingertips of Begovic denied Reading again - somehow the scores remained level.

On the night of a highly publicised heavyweight boxing clash the visitors were very much on the ropes for the last ten minutes, as a series of Royals corners rained down on Asmir Begovic's goal.

Shane Long saw an effort deflected narrowly wide after one such set-piece caused panic, but still a home league victory looked just out of reach.

Coming away with nothing would have been something of a travesty, and that was only just as Priskin drifted a shot wide late on - a break that perhaps left the home support feeling slightly more grateful for their point as the final whistle rang out to call an end to proceedings.
    Data provided by Press Association