Reading 2 (Gorkss 20, Le Fondre 53)
Palace 2 (Zaha 14, Murray 76)
Reading came from behind to earn a gutsy 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace this afternoon in our final home game of the 2011/12 season. It is a point that keeps the destiny of the Championship title in our own hands.
A rocking Madejski Stadium atmosphere was temporarily dampened when the lively Wilfried Zaha latched on to Dean Moxeys' low cross to toe the Eagles into a 14th minute lead.
But six minutes later, Brian McDermott's men were level through Kaspars Gorkss' header after Palace had headed off their goalline but not cleared the ball.
Just before the break, Adam Federici
had to brilliantly push Glenn Murray's volley against the crossbar, but Jason Roberts was shown a red card when he caught Jonathan Parr with his right arm in trying to shield the ball.
But yet another inspired substitution from McDermott earned the ten men of Reading the lead. Noel Hunt swept a cross in from the right and Adam Le Fondre rose highest to head home from six yards out.
Dougie Freedman's men hit back with 15 minutes left, Murray arrowing a far post volley through a crowd and past Federici to make it 2-2. And although Reading pressed for a winner, the Royals had to settle for a point.
Reading (4-4-2): Federici; Cummings, Harte, Gorkss, Pearce; Leigertwood (Tabb 79), Mullins (Gunnarsson 84), Robson-Kanu (Le Fondre HT), McAnuff (c); Hunt, Roberts.
Subs: McCarthy, Church.
Palace (4-4-2): Speroni (Price 26), De Silva, Parr, McCarthy (c), McShane (Parsons 31); Murray, Garvan, O'Keefe, Moxey, Ambrose (Pedrosa 61), Zaha.
Subs: Scannell, Appiah.
Att: 23,431 (1,687)Starting XI team news:
Brian McDermott made one change to the starting line-up, picking fit-again Hal Robson-Kanu on the wing in place of the injured Jimmy Kebe. Jay Tabb was named as a substitute in place of Benik Afobe.First half:
Jason Roberts' first words when giving an interview from the dressing room after Tuesday night's victory were 'Now, we want to go and win the league'. And in the opening moments, he wriggled free on the right to cut a cross back for Hunt in the opening minutes, only for a slight deflection to take it into the hands of Speroni.
The confidence running through the team was evident when Kaspars Gorks hooked a left-footed volley just wide from the edge of the area.
But the visitors shocked the home fans by opening the scoring on the quarter hour mark. Dean Moxey whipped in a dangerous cross and Wilfried Zaha
slid in to get a boot on the end of it and direct it into the bottom right corner.
Ian Harte forced Speroni into a sharp save from a left-footed free kick, and the Eagles stopper did so at the second attempt, smothering the loose ball as two Reading players looked to pounce.
And Palace's lead didn't last long. As 'We're gonna score in a minute' rang out around the ground, Brian McDermott's men obliged. Ian Harte's deep corner was headed back across by Kaspars Gorkss
. Leigertwood looped a header goalwards which was headed off the line but Gorkss climbed high once more to power home a header and level matters.
Dougie Freddman was forced into two changes - first his goalkeeper had to be replaced, Speroni injuring himself soon after Gorkss' equaliser and being replaced between the sticks by Lewis Price. Then Paul McShane was forced off and Matthew Parsons came in in his place.
And Price was in the action before the break, saving well from Hunt's header from distance after good work from Hal Robson-Kanu down the right opened the visitors up.
Then the game turned on its head a minute before the break. First, Adam Federici
had to brilliantly push a superb volley against his crossbar to deny Glenn Murray a specatcular goal.
Then, at the other end, Roberts raced towards the ball on the left, side by side with Jonathan Parr, who went to ground. Referee Andy D'Urso raced over and brandished a red card without hesitation. Parr was caught by Roberts' arm, but the Royals striker was just looking to shield the ball from his opponent.Second half
Spurred on by their numerical advantage, Zaha tested Federici's handling early on in the second half, squirming a shot goalwards from 10 yards out, but Federici was equal to the task.
And the Royals' half time substitution almost unlocked the Eagles defence moments late, Adam Le Fondre sending a delightful 25-yard chip over Palace keeper Price and inches over the crossbar.
And if this Reading team represent anything it is a refusal to ever give in - so when Brian McDermott's magical half-time substitution paid off yet again, few in the ground were too surprised.
Noel Hunt found some space down the right and Adam Le Fondre
, on for Hal Robson-Kanu at half time, rose high to head home from six yards out and send the home fans wild!
The combination almost worked again. Harte's floated crossfield ball found the head of Hunt who nodded it into the middle for Le Fondre only for Price to intercept it at the last minute.
Moments later, Jobi McAnuff embarked on a run that can only be described as Anfield-esque, jinking in and out of tackles and into the Eagles area, but his shot was blocked by a last gasp sliding challenge.
As the rain began to pour, Reading kept pressing for another, coping well with ten men. But somewhat against the run of play, Palace levelled through an arrowed volley from Glenn Murray
at the far post.
Tabb and Gunnarsson were introduced for Leigertwood and Mullins in midfield, but despite Reading's instincts to go forward at every opportunity, there was no way through for a winner.