Preston 1 (Treacy 22)
Reading 1 (Karacan 50)
A stunning goal from Jem Karacan earned Reading a point at Deepdale in a game that we dominated for very long periods.
Captain Jobi McAnuff hit the bar early on, but Keith Treacy gave North End the lead completely against the run of play midway through the first half; North End's first shot on target.
We continued to press, and Karacan smashed home a fantastic volley from 25 yards to equalise early on 50 minutes.
McAnuff was then denied by a brilliant Andy Lonergan save, and although we continued to dominate and North End went down to ten men late on, we couldn't quite find that second goal to give us a third consecutive win.
But we can be pleased with a point against a North End side who have just hit a bit of form themselves, and we go into the two-week international break nicely poised at seventh in the npower Championship table
Reading (4-4-2): Federici; Cummings, Harte, Khizanishvili, Pearce; Armstrong, Karacan; McAnuff (c), Kebe; Church (Hunt 63), Long
Subs: McCarthy, Williams, Ingimarsson, Taylor, Antonio, Bignall
Booked: Cummings (foul 35), Khizanishvili (foul 48), McAnuff (foul 69), Karacan (foul 75)
Preston (4-4-2): Lonergan; Jones, Davidson (c), Brown, St Ledger; Barton (Mayor 62), Russell, Coutts, Treacy (Hayes 76); Hume, Parkin (Gray 84)
Subs: Arestidou, Morgan, McLaughlin, Douglas
Booked: Hayes (foul 80)
Sent off : Russell (two yellows, fouls 31 and 78)
Attendance: 10,269 (449 away)
Referee: J Waugh
Starting XI team news
Reading made two changes from the win over Ipswich; injury victim Hal Robson-Kanu and suspended Matt Mills missing out; Simon Church and Zurab Khizanishvili coming in. Jobi McAnuff was handed the captain's armband for the first time.
With four minutes gone Adam Federici showed good awareness to deny the onrushing Iain Hume as he ttried to capitalise on a short header back from Chris Armstrong; the Australian doing well to smother the danger.
On ten minutes Reading broke exceptionally well, Simon Church and Shane Long involved in releasing skipper Jobi McAnuff down the left. He cut infield onto his right foot and curled an excellent effort that clipped the top of the bar; Andy Lonergan well beaten in the North End goal.
Alex Pearce then fired over from a right wing corner, and may well have been fouled as he tried to guide his effort goalwards. Church then had a decent chance after Armstrong got forward well, but the young Welsh international was given offside in any event.
The Royals were forcing a series of corners, and Ian Harte's delivery was excellent. very nearly forcing a North End defender into an own goal on 21 minutes.
Reading were well on top, but unfortunately the home side took the lead against the run of play. Under pressure from Iain Hume, Zurab Khizanishvili tried to shield the ball of play, but the Canadian international nipped in front of him and won possession. He played a low cross into the six yard box, and although we initially got a block on it, it fell for Keith Treacy to sidefoot in with North End's very first shot on target.
We had a decent chance to respond almost straight away, but Long didn't get a clean contact on his header from Harte's excellent cross. Down the other end Treacy was coming into the game more and a decent ball from out wide forced us to clear our lines.
Khizanishvili then had a looping header cleared off the line, while Jem Karacan had a shot blocked from the edge of the box after good play by Jimmy Kebe.
We forced nine corners in the first 45 minutes, and Khizanishvili headed wide from another flagkick inside injury time to signal the end of a first period in which he had been much the superior side.
The Royals came out at the start of the second half with the same attacking intent, and got their rewards in stunning fashion only five minutes after the restart.
Good play from Kebe saw his shot deflected over for a corner, and the set piece found its way to Karacan on the edge of the box. The ball was dropping from very high, but the Turkish midfielder hit a sensational dipping volley from fully 25 yards, giving Andy Lonergan absolutely no chance. It was a fabulous goal and he celebrated right in front of the 449 loyal Royals who made the journey north.
We looked for a quick second, and Lonergan pulled off a truly wonderful save to deny McAnuff as he came in at the back post and sidefooted Kebe's cross goalwards. It was a brilliant stop and left supporters of both teams applauding.
Brian McDermott's side continued to press, and brought Noel Hunt on for Simon Church with a quarter of the game to go.
Preston attacks were rare, but Darel Russell flicked an effort not too far wide in the 71st minute after a Billy Jones cross.
With 12 minutes gone Preston were reduced to ten men, and Russell was the man sent off for his second bookable offence; a challenge on Long 35 yards from goal. It looked a tight decision but the referee was right on the spot and Russell did not seem to have too many complaints.
We pushed for a late winner, and with five minutes to go Hunt got a decent header in from Kebe's cross but Lonergan made a solid save. Pearce had another sight of goal but couldn't get it on target from another dangerous Reading corner. Soon after, Adam Federici had to make a rare save, pulling off a good low stop from sub Danny Mayor's drive.
Neither side could find another chance to take all three points, and the game was a touch too scrappy and stop-start late on for either side to get genuine momentum.
It was still a valuable draw against a team who had won their last two games, and while we would have loved a victory, one point is still a decent return and we go into the two-week international break seventh in the league, having only lost one of our last seven in the npower Championship.