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16:58 27th March 2010

Report: Baggies steal late point

Reading 1 (Sigurdsson 6)
West Brom 1 (Tamas 84)

A very late goal denied Reading yet another home win as high-flying West Brom fought back to steal a late draw at Madejski Stadium.

We took an early lead through Gylfi Sigurdsson and although West Brom had plenty of ball we certainly had by far the better chances to extend our lead but just could not find that second goal we so craved.

Albion had a good penalty shout waved away in the second half and they were relieved to level when Gabriel Tamas lashed home from a corner with six minutes to go. We still had another good chance to win it through Jimmy Kebe in injury time but Scott Carson saved smartly.

So it was a game that could have gone either way, but it is another mark of our progress that we come away from a game against a top side slightly disappointed not to have taken all three points.

On this display West Brom are the best team we have faced in the league this season, but we pushed them every step of the way and they know they've been in a real game against Brian McDermott's hugely impressive team.

Reading (4-2-3-1): Federici; Griffin, Bertrand, Khizanishvili, Mills (c); Gunnarsson (Rasiak 88), Howard; McAnuff, Sigurdsson, Kebe; Long (Church 65)
Subs: Hamer, Pearce, Karacan, Henry, Robson-Kanu
Booked: Griffin (foul 64), Bertrand (foul 70), Mills (foul 76), Sigurdsson (foul 90)

West Brom: Carson (c); Reid, Mattock, Olsson, Tamas; Mulumbu (Barnes 62), Watson; Dorrans, Morrison (Cox 78), Thomas; Wood (Miller 62)
Subs: Kiely, Zuiverloon, Meite, Moore
Booked: Tamas (dissent 90)

Attendance: 20,515 (3,016 away)

Referee: A D'Urso

Team news
Reading made one change to their starting XI, Brynjar Gunnarsson replacing the injured Jay Tabb. Midfield man Marek Matejovsky was due to be among the subs but had a stomach injury so James Henry came in. West Brom made four changes, two through injury and two tactical.

First half
There was a great atmosphere at Madejski Stadium before kick off and, as you would expect from the team's two form teams, the game started at an electric pace.

Graham Dorrans has been in excellent form for the Baggies this season, and a superb sliding challenge from Zurab Khizanishvili inside the box prevented him from getting a shot off on six minutes.

The resulting corner was whipped in toward Reading's back post, and cleared up to Shane Long on the halfway line. His excellent touch released Jobi McAnuff, and suddenly we had a break, with no Albion defenders anywhere to be seen. McAnuff went 30 yards in possession and forced Scott Carson into a good save, but it fell loose for Jimmy Kebe in the box. He looked sure to score but a defender blocked his effort on the line - only for Gylfi Sigurdsson to gobble up from close range. It was a simple finish, but he had shown fantastic desire to get all the way forward and score his 15th of a very productive season.

Albion looked for a quick response, and Matt Mills had to divert a low cross just past his own post, then Adam Federici made a very smart save from the resulting corner, tipping over Gabriel Tamas' powerful header.

Our 'keeper then had to make another couple of impressive stops, first to keep out James Morrison's low shot, when he importantly pushed it far enough wide of the onrushing Dorrans. Again our Antipodean glovesman was tested from the resulting corner, clasping a header from Ben Watson.

Reading then had a fabulous chance to make it 2-0 in not dissimilar circumstances to the opener. This time it was Brian Howard who went through on goal after a neat one-two, but again Carson saved. Once more Sigurdsson was on hand for the rebound, but the Baggies managed to hack away his header on the line.

It was a great game, and both teams were fully playing their part in a very entertaining contest. It's a cliche, but it really was a great advert for this division.

Two minutes before the break we created another decent chance, Howard releasing McAnuff down the left. He showed Steven Reid a clean pair of heels but Carson was on hand to pull off a smart low save.

In injury time Watson had a go from the edge of the box, but again Federici was well positioned to smother his low effort.

Second half
There was no let-up in the game's pace at the start of the second half, and Kebe was almost in for a goal from Long's pass on the edge of the area but Carson was out well, aided by his defender.

Soon afterwards Jimmy did well to win a wide free kick and Khizanishvili's header was goalbound but Carson clawed it from the sky. Kebe then had chance to capitalise on a break that was heavily in our favour, but couldn't control Federici's long kick as it dropped toward him on the charge.

West Brom are one of the division's top sides and they then entered a period of slick passing. Within that period they had three penalty shouts - and the third one in particular looked a very strong claim indeed.

First of all Jerome Thomas was clipped by Andy Griffin, but the offside flag was up against the Baggies' winger. Then Dorrans claimed handball against Matt Mills but there was no way it was deliberate - and Dorrans was very, very lucky to escape any punishment after clearly pushing Brynjar Gunnarsson right under the nose of Andy D'Urso.

Then Khizanishvili seemed to catch Watson inside the box, but crucially the Albion midfielder was able to stay on his feet and therefore did force the referee to make a decision.

Substitute Simon Church then had a glorious chance to double our lead, being put through clean on goal after timing his run to perfection. He just allowed the ball to run fractionally too far ahead of him, and as Carson flew out he prodded an effort no more than a foot wide.

The Baggies were playing some nice stuff, but our pace was still causing them problems on the counter.

We had defended resolutely until the 86th minute, when Albion finally found a way through our backline. Sadly, it had been coming, but we could question the officials' decision not to give a foul throw in the build-up. A right wing cross found Jonas Olsson at the back post, and his header crashed off the bar - only to fall to Tamas, who lashed home emphatically, giving Federici absolutely no chance.

Sub Ishmael Miller was then put through for a clear run at goal, but Mills was back very well to avert the danger.

We threw everyone forward for victory, and Kebe so nearly found a winner when going through again - but once more Carson scrambled a save with his feet.

With seconds remaining Dorrans went through on Federici's goal, and Sigurdsson had no choice but to bring him down, referee D'Urso thankfully only deeming it a yellow card offence when a more harsh official would have sent him off.

And so a great game ended 1-1. Reading had the better chances, but West Brom are a top side and we pushed them every single step of the way. It was a pulsating game and although we did not win, our supporters can again be proud of the boys in blue and white for giving everything to the cause.

    Data provided by Press Association