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17:47 28th December 2010

Report: Royals fight back for point

Hull 1 (Harper 39)
Reading 1 (Church 81)

A late Simon Church goal earned Reading a point away to Hull City after a tight game at the KC Stadium.

Like so many matches in the npower Championship, it was a game of fine margins with chances at both ends, most notably a Shane Long penalty that was saved by on-loan Arsenal man Vito Mannone.

We were denied a good penalty shout at 0-0, Noel Hunt seemingly pushed over in the box, before former Reading man James Harper slammed home a superb goal to give the home side the lead, and City twice hit the woodwork in the first half.

Boss Brian McDermott was not pleased with our first half display, and Reading were the more positive side in the second half, Long winning a penalty that was saved just after the hour mark. Mannone may have crept off his line in making the save, but it was not Long's best penalty either.

We then got our rewards for a good spell of pressure when sub Church tapped home from very close range after an Ian Harte free kick.

We kept pushing and had a few shots blocked in search of a late winner, while sub Nick Barmby had a cracking chance for the home side but headed over deep into in injury time.

Both sides are no eight games unbeaten, and a draw marks another positive result over this festive period as we climb up into the play-off places.

Hull (4-4-2): Mannone; Rosenior, Dawson, McShane, Zayatte; Ashbee, Harper, Koren (Bullard 84), Devitt (Barmby 78); Simpson (Garcia 83), Stewart
Subs: Duke, Cooper, Cairney, Solano,
Booked: Zayatte (foul 18), Harper (dissent 31)

Reading (4-4-2): Federici; Griffin, Harte, Mills (c), Pearce; Karacan (Howard 58), Leigertwood (Antonio 72), Kebe, McAnuff; Hunt (Church 58), Long
Subs: McCarthy, Khizanishvili, Tabb, Robson-Kanu
Booked: Long (dissent 85)

Ref: D Foster

Attendance: 21,975

First half
Hull had the first effort of note, defender Kamil Zayatte flicking an effort toward goal from a corner, but Adam Federici was on hand to avert the danger.

Federici then had to make a decent save from Robert Koren, the Slovenian getting in a shot from the edge of the area but our 'keeper was well positioned.

Immediately Jimmy Kebe had our first sight of goal, shooting low following a corner but seeing his effort go wide of the near post and into the side netting.

Kebe then fired in a that seemed to smack a City defender on the hand inside the box but our appeal was waved away.

Koren was the hosts' main threat, and had Federici beaten right on the half hour but saw his effort fly back off the post after a superb run from the halfway line.

Reading quickly went up the other end, but Paul McShane was on hand to stab over his own bar after a good break down our left.

Ten minutes before the break, Reading were inexplicably denied a penalty when Noel Hunt was pushed over inside the box as he prepared to shoot. Zayatte was the offender, and having already been booked, it was a double blow for the Royals - we could well have had a spot kick and the defender would surely have been sent off.

So it was incredibly galling when Hull when up the other end and opened the scoring. In fairness it was a goal of great quality, a lovely team move allowing former Reading man James Harper to smack home a superb left footed effort from fully 25 yards, giving Federici no chance.

The goal allowed Hull to get on top as the half drew to a close, and Cameron Stewart saw an effort deflected onto the woodwork. City had been in the ascendancy for most of the half, but Reading were very hard done by with key decisions.

Second half
The second period started with a half chance for either side - had Jay Simpson showed better control he would have been in on goal, and then Shane Long was close to slipping Hunt in down the other end but City got back to defend.

There was then a moment of intrigue as Andy Griffin made an excellent challenge on a City attacker right on the edge of the box, and the referee rightly waved play on, only for his assistant to flag and signal a penalty. After a long delay and a conversation with the linesman, the referee made the right decision not to award a free kick - Griffin clearly won the ball and the outcome was ultimately correct. City will understandably argue that the linesman was in a good position and had deemed it to be a penalty - but Griffin clearly won the ball so the referee was brave and correct in his decision and credit must go to him for overruling his assistant.

A wonderful ball from Ian Harte almost gave Long a chance just past the hour mark, but it was a very difficult opportunity as he tried to chip Vito Mannone left footed and a defender was on hand to get in a block.

Reading then had a real chance to get back into the game when Long was brought down by McShane inside the area for a penalty. Long took it himself, and Mannone probably crept off his line but made a good save down to his right.

It was an open game and Mikele Leigertwood hit a cracking effort but it was off target, before subs Simon Church and Brian Howard almost comined to put the midfielder in on goal.

Our third sub Michail Antonio then smacked a shot at goal but it was deflected, before Alex Pearce was close to a diving header but the cross evaded him.

Church then got the goal we deserved, Harte's free kick causing Mannone to flap and our Welsh striker was in the right place to tap home.

We kept knocking for a winner, but didn't get a clear chance and Tigers sub Nick Barmby should have done better than to head over from an injury time corner.

Ultimately a draw was probably the fairest result, and a decent return for the Royals on a tough place to come. Hull have picked up in recent weeks, like us they are now unbeaten in eight games so a draw is by no means a shabby result.

    Data provided by Press Association