Reading 1 (Hunt 5)
Cardiff 1 (Bothroyd 79)
The Royals were robbed of three points at Madejski Stadium by a controversial late equaliser from Jay Bothroyd, which replays suggest did not crossed the line.
Noel Hunt opened the scoring after only five minutes, stabbing Simon Church's deep cross past Tom Heaton from a tight angle on the left.
And the Royals had good chances to add to their lead, Heaton saving well from Church and doing enough to force Shane Long to lob just wide.
But with just over 10 minutes remaining Jay Bothroyd swept a speculative first time left-footed effort over Federici and against the underside of the crossbar, onto the line, against the inside of the right post and out.
The linesman signalled for a goal and, without discussion, the referee signalled for a goal. The Reading players were incensed at the award of a goal when the ball seemingly didn't cross the line, but the scoreboard flicked round to 1-1 and Bothroyd's effort stood.
Federici had to be alert to push a Chris Burke effort over the bar and then gobble up an ambitious Bothroyd effort in injury time. And at the other end Mills headed a late, late chance wide.
But despite the Royals' best efforts, the points were shared at the end of ninety minutes. Cardiff missed the chance to go top and Reading remain a point outside the play-off places.
Reading: Federici; Griffin, Harte, Khizanishvili (c), Mills; Karacan, Howard, McAnuff; Church (Tabb 69), Hunt (Robson-Kanu 73), Long
Subs: McCarthy, Cummings, Pearce, Armstrong, Antonio
Cardiff: Heaton; Matthews, Naylor, Blake, Hudson (c); McPhail (Koumas 58), Olofinjana, Burke, Whittingham, Bothroyd, Chopra (Drinkwater 84)
Subs: Marshall, Wildig, Rae, Keogh
Referee: A D'Urso
Attendance: 17,960 (3,344 away)
Brian McDermott opted to name three strikers in his starting line up and, after less than five minutes played, one of them had scored.
Reinstated to the starting eleven, Simon Church floated a cross over everyone to the far post where, also reinstated to the starting eleven Noel Hunt stabbed home with a volley from a very tight angle.
It was Hunt's first league goal since a 3-1 win at Barnsley in August 2009, and he released all his frustration in an elaborate double somersault in front of the East Stand. The passion was there to see as he kicked the advertising boards triumphantly.
That goal livened the visitors up, Stephen McPhail headed just over the bar and a headed effort was ruled out for offside soon after.
But it was the home side who were looking the more likely and would have had a second if it weren't for City keeper Tom Heaton. Long made great progress down the right and slid a lovely low cross behind everyone towards the penalty spot. Church arrived onto it and connected well, but Heaton parried his shot well and Adam Matthews gratefully hooked the ball clear.
Harte raced onto the loose ball and drive a 25-yard effort at goal, which seemed to be handled by a Cardiff player inside the box - but referee Andy D'Urso saw nothing wrong with the block and Reading had to make do with a corner.
And Church almost carved another chance out for himself late in the half. A surging run forward got the City back line back-tracking, and he slid the ball into the path of Long. Long backheeled it looking to find Church, but his strike partner hadn't read it and a great move ended without testing Heaton.
As half time approached, Cardiff had their best chance of the game. Whittingham swept the ball from the left flank to Burke who broke down the right, who beat Harte and slid a ball into Chopra. He backheeled it for Olifinjana bursting towards the edge of the six yard box, but Andy Griffin slid in to execute a perfectly timed tackle which allowed Federici to mop up.
Cardiff looked to pressurise the home side early after the interval and Chris Burke broke but dragged a 20-yard effort well wide of the left upright.
And two glorious chances presented themselves at the other end in a lively start to the second period.
Shane Long scurried onto an underhit header from Darcy Blake and, with Heaton racing out of his box, tried to loft it over the keeper. But it bounced just wide of the right post and a great chance to make it 2-0 went begging.
Then moments later, Hunt arrived at the far post to head a McAnuff cross down into the ground and it looked to be creeping inside the left post until Heaton flapped it behind for a corner, an excellent stop.
On the hour mark, Dave Jones' men reminded us of what they are capable. A slick passing move down the right ends with Chopra fizzing a low shot just wide of the bottom right corner.
And moments later, Burke had the time to turn inside Harte and arc a 15-yard left-footed effort just wide of the same upright - when perhaps he should have hit the target.
The pressure mounted, but Reading repelled it - and Olofinjana header flying over off Long with 20 minutes remaining.
And at the other end, Reading still threatened. Howard drove forward and won a corner with a deflected shot, and McAnuff's right-footed was parried by a last ditch sliding tackle.
But Cardiff did level matters in controversial circumstances with 79 minutes on the clock. Bothroyd swept a speculative effort goalwards and it sailed over Federici and came off the underside of the bar, bounced down onto the line, struck the inside of the right post and came out.
Federici gathered the loose ball but the linesman signalled for a goal. Reading players were incensed, and replays suggest rightly so as the ball never seemed to cross the line, but their complaints fell on deaf ears and Cardiff were level.
Federici had to produce a good save to push Burke's late effort over his crossbar and prevent the Bluebirds from stealing all three points. And Bothroyd, clearly thinking his luck was in, tried a drive from 25 yards which the Aussie took safely into his chest.
But the final chances fell Reading's way, Matt Mills heading over and wide from corners from either side.
In the end, the points were shared and Reading remained a point outside the play-off places, while Cardiff missed out on reclaiming top spot.