Cardiff 1 (Burke 58)
Reading suffered an incredibly cruel defeat against Cardiff City this Wednesday evening despite a dominant and hugely impressive display from Brendan Rodgers' team.
The very least Reading deserved from the game was a point, and to not take anything at all from the match was nothing less than daylight robbery.
As early as the third minute we stung the palms of visiting 'keeper David Marshall, and the Bluebirds' number one was their man of the match by some distance.
Reading absolutely flew out of the traps in the second half, and nearly scored four times in the first 13 minutes after the restart. Brian Howard, Marek Matejovsky and Grzegorz Rasiak were all denied by Marshall, and Noel Hunt was inches away from sliding in on Rasiak's drilled cross.
We were rampant, but completely against the run of play Chris Burke scored, then the same player somehow missed a sitter to make it 2-0 just a minute later.
Normal service was soon resumed, and we threw the kitchen sink at Marshall's goal. In between all our efforts and wave after wave of blue and white attack, Stephen McPhail was sent off for a high challenge on Jem Karacan.
The dismissal only served to force Cardiff to remove a striker and defend even deeper, and five times in the last seven minutes of play we almost equalised.
Incredibly, Adam Federici
was denied a goal in the dying embers when his fantastic overhead kick went too close to Marshall and he plucked it from the sky. Yes, you did read that correctly - Federici was up for an injury time corner and showed superb technique to unleash a spectacular effort.
It simply would not go in for Reading, and the home supporters gave us a rousing ovation at full time, and our fans must take credit for that. The Berkshire crowd saw a performance full of effort, desire and commitment, and we truly did everything possible but score a goal.
Reading (4-4-2 diamond): Federici; Cummings, Bertrand, O'Dea, Pearce (c); Karacan (Kebe 78), Matejovsky, Sigurdsson, Howard; Hunt (Church 57), Rasiak
Subs: Hamer, Ingimarsson, Mills, Cisse, Tabb
Cardiff (4-4-2): Marshall; Matthews (Quinn 32), Kennedy, Hudson, Gerrard; Ledley (c) (Taiwo 87), McPhail, Whittingham, Burke; Chopra (Rae 79), Bothroyd
Subs: Enckelman, Gyepes, Capaldi, Magennis
Booked: Gerrard (foul 34), Hudson (timewasting 83)
Sent off: McPhail (foul 75)
Ref: P Taylor
Attendance: 16,687First half
Reading started well, and only a very good save from David Marshall denied us a goal in the second minute. The lively Brian Howard slipped in Noel Hunt with a nice pass, and the Irish frontman got in a good low shot from the angle but it was marginally too close to Marshall and he palmed away; fortunately for him it fell to a yellow shirt.
We continued to press, and Gylfi Sigurdsson fired over on seven minutes; Hunt well placed out on the right if the young Icelander had looked to pass.
It was a decent game, and Jay Bothroyd had Cardiff's first shot on 18, Adam Federici
comfortably behind it.
City boss Dave Jones had his first substitution enforced upon him with 33 minutes gone, Adam Matthews off injured and Paul Quinn on in his place.
City then had two decent sights of goal in the space of a minute, first when Michael Chopra got on the end of a neat one-two with Bothroyd but dragged wide; Bothroyd then stinging Federici's palms soon after. Second half
Reading flew out of the traps, and four times in the first ten minutes we could have scored.
First another Marshall save denied Howard's cracking long range effort, and then the 'keeper again palmed wide to stop Marek Matejovsky's strike from outside the box.
Then Grzegorz Rasiak put in a low cross that was inches behind Hunt in the middle, although the flag went up.
Next Rasiak had a low left-footed effort that Marshall saved fairly comfortably, and the game was all Reading.
But, completely against the run of play, the visitors took the lead. A cross from wide on the left hand side went all the way to Chris Burke
on the opposite wing, and the wideman finished well, high past Federici.
It was an incredibly cruel blow because Cardiff had were being completely outplayed, and thankfully Burke missed an absolute sitter a minute later from the same position and with it went the chance to make it 2-0.
Sub Simon Church was very close to an equaliser with 15 minutes to go, and it looked for all the world that Marshall tipped his effort wide for a corner, but the linesman flagged for a goal kick, much to Church's dismay.
Moments later the officials were again in the thick of the action, this time when City midfielder Stephen McPhail was shown a straight red card for a high challenge on Jem Karacan. Referee Taylor showed no hesitation in brandishing the card, but it did look on the harsh side.
Then, and not for the first time during this season, the game seemed to become affected by a visiting team's desire to run the clock down. City naturally wanted to see the game out with only ten men on the field, but the home crowd became very vocal, especially when Michael Chopra was substituted at a walking pace, unhurried by any officials. But regardless the Royals pushed on, and threw wave after wave of attack at the overworked Marshall's goal.
Inside the last two minutes we have five near misses, first when Alex Pearce headed over from eight yards out and then Church shot over on the turn.
Darren O'Dea was now a makeshift striker, and he headed over a decent opportunity, just failing to get the right connection on it as the cross came in from the left.
Sigurdsson was next, hitting a volley that was off target and it just felt like it was never going to go in.
Finally, in the fifth minute of the five added on, Reading had a corner, and Federici made his way forward, every single Royals fan desperate for a repeat of last season when he equalised so dramatically. The corner came in and just missed his head, but it was then recycled and dropped toward Federici, the crowd holding its breath....and he connected fantasically with an overhead kick, but it was just too close to Marshall and he plucked it out of the air. It would have been a simply unbelievably end to the game, and the very, very least we deserved from the match.
Ultimately, Reading just could not have done any more.
Cardiff's goal was pummelled, and for the second game in succession a visiting goalkeeper was their man of the match and earned his team a result. The home supporters gave our players a huge ovation at full time, and they saw the effort and intensity we played with for the 90 minutes.
It was a very frustrating result, and frankly it was daylight robbery that we did not even end up with a draw, because on any other day our performance would have brought all three points.