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21:47 13th March 2012

Pearce earns Royals a point

Doncaster 1 (Bennett 27)
Reading 1 (Pearce 51)

Reading came from behind to draw at Doncaster this evening, earning a point to edge into an automatic promotion place but seeing their incredible winning streak come to an end...just.

Rovers took the lead against the run of play when El Hadji Diouf's cross zipped right across the box for the impressive Kyle Bennett to turn home at the far post.

But Reading replied six minutes into the second half when one of string of threatening Ian Harte corners supplied Alex Pearce with a far post header that he powered into the top left oorner.

Pearce twice had efforts cleared off the line by Doncaster defenders and Reading pressed relentlessly for a winner, but two excellent late saves from Carl Ikeme denied Jason Roberts and Noel Hunt and Brian McDermott's men had to settle for a point.

Doncaster (4-4-2): Ikeme; Chimbonda, Spurr, Hird, Beye, Gillett, Bennett, Coppinger, Barnes, Diouf, Piquionne.
Subs: Robert, Lockwood, Oster, Ilunga, Hayter.
Yellow: Beye, Diouf

Reading (4-4-2): Federici; Cummings, Harte, Gorkss, Pearce; Karacan (Tabb 65), Leigertwood, McAnuff (c), Robson-Kanu (Le Fondre 64); Hunt, Roberts.
Subs: Andersen, Cywka, Church.
Yellow: Karacan, Hunt, Gorkss

Attendance: 8,287 (546 away)
Referee: Mr T Bates

Starting XI team news:
Brian McDermott named the same starting eleven and substitutes' bench for the third successive match this evening, keeping faith with the side that beat Portsmouth and Leicester City at Madejski Stadium last week. Former Royal John Oster on the bench for the hosts.

First half
As at home to Leicester on Saturday, the Royals were denied an early opener by a clearance off the line. With only four mintues on the clock, Alex Pearce directed a far post header on target only to see Rovers skipper El Hadji Diouf nod it off the line with Ikeme beaten.

And Brian McDemott's men came close with the same combination minutes later. Ian Harte's inswinging corner was headed just wide by Kaspars Gorkss, rising high at the far post.

Incredibly. a carbon copy once more almost earned the Royals the lead. This time a combination of Leigertwood and Pearce got on the end of Harte's deep inswinging corner, but it flashed just over.

Midway through the half, Jason Roberts got a glimpse of goal. A cross from the left wasn't dealt with and the ball bobbled to Roberts' feet, but he scuffed an instinctive right-footed shot at goal wide of the bottom left corner.

And moments later, the wicked left-footed delivery of Ian Harte again cause problems, Noel Hunt stooping low to head the left back's set piece just wide.

But against the run of play, Rovers took the lead. El Hadji Diouf delivered a dangerous cross from the right and the ball skidded past Piquionne and reached the lively Kyle Bennett at the far post, who turned the ball home from six yards out.

Reading looked to respond through Roberts, who cut in from the left side of the box to try his luck from 20 yards. But Ikeme gathered the shot at the second attempt. And on the half hour, Hunt threw himself at a Cummings cross but couldn't get the decisive touch.

A lovely move five minutes before the break almost got Reading level. Robson-Kanu skipped through a couple of tackles and fed McAnuff on the right. His cross picked out Robson-Kanu in the middle but Ikeme at full stretch tipped the winger's header wide of the bottom corner and behind for a corner.

And a goalmouth scramble saw Hunt, Roberts and finally McAnuff stab efforts at goal only for Ikeme to cling onto the latter's and take his team into the break a goal to the good.

Second half
The Royals began the second half well, Ian Harte thundering a fearsome free kick into the wall before delivering two dangerous corners - the second of which supplied the visitors with their equaliser.

Alex Pearce rose majestically at the far post to bullet a header into the top left corner. The Royals had threatened to score in the exact same fashion throughout the first half and finally Ikeme was beaten by the centre half's powerful header.

Giles Barnes struck a sweet right-footed effort into the side netting as Rovers recovered quickly and rallied looking to retake the lead. And Piquionne came close with a header that drifted just wide.

And with 15 minutes left, Beye came close to converting a close range header, but was unable to turn a Piquionne flick on target after Coppinger's excellent cross.

Another Harte free kick almost earned Reading the winner. Pearce this time chested it down and drove right-footed past Ikeme but not Sam Hird who cleared off the line - the second time Rovers had been saved by a goalline stop.

And with seven minutes remaining, Le Fondre controlled a fizzed Roberts pass inside the box, but with no time to pick his spot could only stab the ball wide of the left upright.

In injury time, Le Fondre knocked a long ball back for Roberts to strike and Ikeme pulled off a fingertip save to deny the Royals frontman.

And then Ikeme came to the rescue for Rovers again, flying through the air to his left to push wide a Hunt header that looked to be dipping underneath the crossbar.
    Data provided by Press Association