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16:58 26th February 2011

Report: Royals fight for 3-3 draw

Crystal Palace 3 (Ambrose 2, Danns 25, Easter 68)
Reading 3 (Long 32 (pen), Kebe 48, Hunt 73)

Reading fought back from 2-0 and 3-2 down to draw 3-3 away to Crystal Palace this Saturday afternoon.

Palace had not conceded at home since November, and having scored three times on the road we will be disappointed not to take a victory, but a point is a fair result.

Palace took a very early lead through Darren Ambrose, then Noel Hunt looked sure to pounce on a golden chance but the ball stuck on the boggy surface and the opportunity was somehow spurned.

Palace doubled their advantage midway through the period when Neil Danns sidefooted home, but we showed great resilience to get back in the game with a penalty won and converted by Shane Long.

Our young 'keeper Alex McCarthy then expertly saved an Ambrose penalty after bringing down James Vaughan, and Jimmy Kebe made it 2-2 with a good goal just after half time following good play by Long.

Against the run of play Palace made it 3-2 with a good finish from sub Jermaine Easter, and although Long had a good chance to score straight after, Noel Hunt did make it 3-3 with a brave header from an excellent Jobi McAnuff cross.

We couldn't find the game's seventh goal to give us all three points, and this is a creditable result away from home, although both teams will feel they could have won.

Palace (4-4-2): Speroni; Clyne, Moxey, Gardner, McCarthy (c); Dikgacoi, Wright, Ambrose, Danns (Scannell 70); Iversen (Zaha 85), Vaughan (Easter 63)
Subs: Price, Davis, Garvan, Counago
Booked: McCarthy (foul 23)

Reading (4-4-2): McCarthy; Cummings (Karacan 83), Harte, Ingimarsson (Khizanishvili 68), Mills (c); Leigertwood, Tabb, Kebe, McAnuff; Hunt, Long
Subs: Andersen, Howard, Antonio, Robson-Kanu, Church
Booked: McCarthy (foul 28)

Attendance: 13,845 (1,253 away)

Ref: A Bates

Starting XI team news
Andy Griffin missed out through injury, Ian Harte coming in at left back and Shaun Cummings moving to right back. Jem Karacan was on the bench as he returned from a three-game ban.

First half
Inside the first 90 sewconds we found ourselves a goal behind. Former Eagle Jobi McAnuff misplaced a pass, and another ex-Palace man Mikele Leigertwood got a foul challenge in but the referee played a good advantage. Darren Ambrose took possession, ran ten yards with the ball and lashed home a good left footed finish from outside the area.

Palace looked for a quick second, and Alex McCarthy had to make a stunning save to keep out Neil Danns' effort after a real scramble, superbly tipping his effort onto the bar and away.

Reading then created a golden chance, and it looked as if the boggy Selhurst Park pitch denied Noel Hunt a certain goal. Julian Speroni mishandled the ball after Jay Tabb tackled the ball goalwards, and Hunt looked to have an open goal but the ball looked like it stopped dead on the surface and went under his foot. The Irishman will have been gutted not to have scored, and Speroni was very relieved indeed.

Palace then had a golden chance of their own, and Ambrose could not point to the pitch as he sidefooted a volley well wide when completely unmarked 12 yards out.

Reading then settled somewhat, although the pitch did not make it easy for either team to pass with any degree of certainty. But as they rightly say, it was the same for both sides.

Midway through the half Palace doubled their advantage; Ivar Ingimarsson not able to clear under pressure from James Vaughan as the ball bounced awkwardly on the surface. It put Vaughan in a good position, and his cross took a nick off Ingimarsson, falling into the path of Danns, the Liverpudlian sidefooting home nicely.

But Reading were not about to lie down, and soon gave themselves a foothold in the game with a penalty won and converted by Shane Long. Alex McCarthy's goal kick found its way to Long after Hunt went up for the flick-on, and Palace skipper Patrick McCarthy pushed our striker in the back for a clear pen. The Eagles' captain was perhaps lucky not to be shown a second yellow card, but we did not care as Long tucked home right into the corner.

It was an exciting game, and immediately Palace had a spot kick of their own. Alex McCarthy came out at Vaughan's feet, and again it looked the right decision from the officials. Our 21-year-old 'keeper was booked, but redeemed himself superbly with a save away to his left hand side, keeping out Ambrose's spot kick.

Second half
If Palace started the first half on top, it was Reading who took charge of the second period and within three minutes we were level.

After scoring our first goal, this time Long was the creator. He did brilliantly down the left and stood up a cross for Jimmy Kebe, the Malian scoring with style as he sidefooted home a volley.

Reading were then well on top, with Ian Harte going very close with a free kick, then Jay Tabb glancing a header too far wide of the upright.

We were enjoying a good spell, but it was Palace who took the lead against the run of play.

Dean Moxey did well to get beyond Matt Mills down the left, and he put in a low cross that went between Ingimarsson and sub Jermaine Easter. Easter got there first, held off the defender and turned home a very good finish with a hooked volley.

But there were still twists to come, and Long had a very good chance from Hunt's cross but headed wide 12 yards out. Ingimarsson was also withdrawn with a groin injury to add to the drama.

We were showing great resilence, and a superb cross from Jobi McAnuff allowed Hunt to turn home a brave header amid a crowd of bodies inside the box. It was breathless stuff.

Palace then found a head of steam, and Shaun Cummings got in a great block to keep out an effort from Kagishio Dikgacoi. Danns was then crowded out when he should have passed, and Easter stabbed an effort goalwards but it was an easy stop.

We pushed for a winner, and although Kebe had a couple of great runs we could not find a decisive goal.

Palace had not conceded at home since November, so scoring three is a fillip, but Brian McDermott admitted afterwards he would normally expect more from us at the back. Both sides will feel they could have won, and we now look to Everton in the FA Cup on Tuesday evening.

    Data provided by Press Association