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16:57 26th December 2009

Report: Honours even at Madejski

Reading 1 (Sigurdsson 45)
Swansea 1 (Pratley 37)

Reading and Swansea showed true Christmas cheer by sharing the spoils at Madejski Stadium on Boxing Day, as Gylfi Sigurdsson's curling free-kick cancelled out Darren Pratley's opening goal.

The Swans had taken the lead as Pratley lashed home, breaking free to finish off a well-worked team move, but Sigurdsson levelled things up in first half stoppage time by winning a set-piece on the edge of the box before dusting himself off to clip home.

Gylfi did come close to a brace in the second period, however both he and substitute Jimmy Kebe were denied by smart work from City 'keeper Dorus De Vries.

Reading (4-4-2): Federici; Gunnarsson, Bertrand, Ingimarsson (c), Pearce; Cisse, Matejovsky (Karacan 76), McAnuff, Sigurdsson; Long (Kebe 55), Rasiak (Robson-Kanu 65).
Subs: Hamer, Cummings, Mills, Howard.
Yellow: Gunnarsson

Swansea: De Vries; Rangel, Bessone, Tate (c), Williams; Britton, Pratley, Dyer, Van Der Gun; Orlandi (Allen 78), Pintado (Trundle 81)
Subs: Cornell, Serran, Bauza, Butler, Cotterill.
Yellow: Pratley, Dyer, Tate

Att: 19,608 (2,999 away fans)

First Half
Brian McDermott began his first game in charge at the Madejski by making one enforced change to the side that picked up a creditable draw with Bristol City last time out - the injured Jay Tabb made way for Brynjar Gunnarsson.

Simon Church served his one game suspension and was forced to watch from the stands, as Brian Howard took his place on the bench after just over a month out of action with a broken jaw.

Gylfi Sigurdsson's teasing free-kick narrowly evaded the head of Ivar Ingimarsson in the opening stages, before bouncing just wide of the post with Swans 'keeper Dorus De Vries scrambling across goal.

At the other end Adam Federici had to be alert to deny Nathan Dyer with his legs, as the tricky winger took advantage of a fortunate deflection to clip in a shot from a tight angle.

A typically visionary pass by Marek Matejovsky sent Shane Long through twenty minutes in, though the Irish international was just beaten to the ball by De Vries, who was quick to exit his area and clear away.

Tempers began to flare after a number of petty arguments were not helped by some inconsistent refereeing, and Sigurdsson again raised pulses after 35 minutes with a mazy dribble to the edge of the 18-yard-box followed by a dipping drive that wasn't held by De Vries. Long pounced on the rebound, but was flagged offside before he could take advantage of the deflection.

Despite the fact that the emphasis seemed to be shifting in favour of the home side it was the Swans who took the lead, as the in-form Darren Pratley made a well timed run into the box before slamming home to cap a well worked passing move.

However the Royals were level in first half stoppage time, and it was young Icelandic star Sigurdsson who did all the work to even things up. Gylfi showed yet more technical craft to win a free-kick on the edge of the box, before dusting himself off to curl home an immaculate set-piece from 20 yards - leaving De Vries with no chance as the ball spun into the bottom right corner of the goal.

Second Half
Grzegorz Rasiak was twice involved in the opening moments of the second period, firstly holding the ball up well on the penalty spot before just miscuing a pass to the open Shane Long, and then pouncing on some hesitant play from Swansea's Ashley Williams before lashing a left footed volley wide of the post.

The irrepressible Sigurdsson again attempted to raise the tempo shortly afterwards, showing good strength to weave to the edge of the box before fizzing a drive just over the bar.

Jimmy Kebe replaced Shane Long as McDermott switched from a four man to a three man midfield, though it was the defence that had to be alert after 64 minutes as Federici dived low to his right to cling onto Gorka Pintado's flicked header.

Kebe almost had a big hand in granting the home side a lead with 17 minutes to go, as he danced in from the left hand side before teeing up, who else, but Sigurdsson - though this time the midfielder saw his effort well saved by Dr Vries.

Kebe himself could have bagged Reading's second moments later as he broke the offside trap to scurry onto a pinpoint kick from the hands of Federici, but with Gylfi waiting in the middle of goal saw his shot palmed away by the City goalie.

Substitute Lee Trundle did have the ball in the net in the last 30 seconds, but the assistant's flag had long been raised to penalise Pratley for offside.
    Data provided by Press Association