Reading 1 (Leigertwood 71)
Southampton 1 (De Ridder 80)
Reading were denied a win against the League leaders as Southampton's ten men fought back to snatch a point at Madejski Stadium.
The Royals were on the front foot for the majority of the game. In Brian McDermott's 100th game, his team registered twice as many shots as the visitors, forcing goalkeeper Kelvin Davis into a number of saves that saw him named man of the match.
We eventually broke through Davis' resistance when the impressive Mikele Leigertwood turned home on the angle after Jobi McAnuff's free kick hit the post, and when Saints skipper Dean Hammond was sent off for a second yellow card it looked like we would take all three points.
But a momentary defensive lapse saw sub Steve De Ridder get inside the area, and although he produced a very good turn and finish off the bar, our defenders were left unhappy with the concession of an equaliser.
Although there was naturally some disappointment with the equaliser, we can be pleased with the performance, and the unbeaten run stretches to seven games.
Southampton came into this weekend five points clear at the top of the League; we pushed them all the way and it was a real shame we could not take all three points in front of the biggest crowd of the season.
Reading (4-4-2): Federici; Cummings, Mills, Gorkss, Pearce; Karacan, Leigertwood, Robson-Kanu (Kebe 80), McAnuff (Harte 87); Church (Manset 81); Le Fondre
Subs: McCarthy, Hunt
Booked: Robson-Kanu (foul 53), McAnuff (foul 83)
Southampton (4-4-2): Davis; Richardson, Fox, Fonte (Martin HT), Hooiveld; Cork, Hammond (c), Do Prado (Schneiderlin 86), Chaplow; Connolly (De Ridder 58), Lambert
Subs: Bialkowski, Harding
Booked: Fonte (handball 10), De Ridder (foul 64)
Sent off: Hammond (two yellows, fouls 69 & 77)
Attendance: 21,889 (4,203 away)
Referee: J Moss
Starting XI team news:
The Royals made one change, bringing back the fit-again Jobi McAnuff in place of Jimmy Kebe, who moved to the bench. The Malian played his first game in more than a month against Derby in midweek, and with Hal Robson-Kanu also in good form Brian McDermott picked the Welshman out wide for the boss' 100th game in charge.
The first moment of note saw Saints defender Jose Fonte booked for handball as Simon Church looked to get in on goal. On another day it could perhaps have been a straight red - but Church still had a bit to do and there may well have been a nudge in Fonte's back.
Moments later nice play from Hal Robson-Kanu and Adam Le Fondre set Jobi McAnuff away down the left, and the skipper worked into the box very well, and as Kelvin Davis saved the ball ran free, but agonisingly not to a Reading man.
Reading were playing well, and Davis had to make a good save to tip over Mikele Leigertwood's searing strike from 30 yards. We then put together a nice move in the final third, but Adam Le Fondre didn't catch his strike well enough. In between, Church hit a very good low effort but Davis was equal to it.
With 35 on the clock Reading had a great opportunity with a 4-on-2 break, and although Church found Le Fondre to get a shot on target, there was disappointment we didn't fully capitalise on the opportunity.
Saints had a spell of possession going into the interval but nothing of any real concern, and that concluded a decent first half performance against the League leaders.
Reading looked for an early impression after the break, and Alex Pearce's header was deflected wide before Davis had to deal with another couple of corners amid good noise from the home crowd.
Adam Federici then had his first real save of the game, and it was a cracking stop from sub Aaron Martin's close range header. Down the other end McAnuff hit a decent effort after a good team move, but it was deflected not too far over.
Federici was in action again on the hour mark when saving Richard Chaplow's low effort, and it ran away from the 'keeper but Joseph Mills was on hand to mop up.
Midway through the half Kaspars Gorkss made a superb goal-saving tackle as Danny Fox got into the box down the left; the Latvian on hand to slide in superbly after Saints nicked possession from a rare Shaun Cummings slip.
Soon enough though the deadlock was broken.
It was the Royals who deserved the advantage after being on the front foot for the majority of the game. Mikele Leigertwood was brought down on the edge of the box, and McAnuff curled a super free kick onto the post - but Leigertwood mopped up on the rebound with a very good finish on the angle amid a crowd of bodies.
The Saints were then reduced to ten men when skipper Dean Hammond was shown a second yellow card for a late challenge on McAnuff, having also conceded the foul that led to our goal, while also a touch lucky not to be booked in the first half.
But the visitors overcome the one-man deficit to level matters just minutes later. Sub Steve De Ridder got into the area and produced a very nice turn and finish off the bar, although he was given far more space than we would have liked as our defenders failed to deal with a throw in.
It was a blow, and we found ourselves on the back foot momentarily but then regained composure.
Sub Mathieu Manset got into the box as the clock ticked to 90 minutes, but Davis was out well at his feet and saved importantly as futile penalty cries went up. Mills then hit a shot from fully 35 yards but it always looked ambitious.
And so it ended 1-1, and the 4,000 visiting fans will have been very happy to come away with a draw. Their team were on the back foot for most of the game - and but for one defensive slip we would have taken all three points.