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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
16:55 5th March 2016

Four goals, honours even

The Royals were held to a point against Fulham this afternoon after penalties for both sides saw the spoils shared at Madejski Stadium, where Brian McDermott's men remain unbeaten in 2016.

Moussa Dembele had handed Fulham the lead with a close range finish after a deep corner hadn't been cleared, but Hal Robson-Kanu levelled from the penalty spot, winning a foul from Fernando Amorebieta and slotting past Lonergan for 1-1.

Robson-Kanu then gave Brian McDermott's men the lead when he stooped to nod home Ola John's delicate cross from the left, but McCormack equalised from the penalty spot after Cooper had fouled the fleet-footed Fredericks. And although the Royals looked like the only side who would find a winner in the final half hour, Fulham held firm for a point.

Royals boss Brian McDermott made one change to the side that came through a seven-goal thriller at Charlton last weekend, replacing captain Paul McShane with Anton Ferdinand at the back - and handing the captain's armband to Chris Gunter.

Fulham began the brighter with Ross McCormack seeing an early effort blocked by the back of Ferdinand and the lively forward then got in behind the Royals back line to win a corner. And from that corner, the Cottagers broke the deadlock. A deep delivery was headed back into the middle at the far post and Moussa Dembele scrappily hooked the ball home from five yards out.

Reading's first real opportunity came from a corner from the left, won by Ola John and delivered into the box by Norwood. Lonergan came for it but couldn't get there and Kermorgant's header dropped in the six yard box only for a Fulham leg to hack it clear.

Kermorgant helped clear the danger from another Cottagers corner and set up a counter attack through Ola John who was only halted by a pull back from Ryan Fredericks which earned the Fulham man a caution.

With 24 minutes played, Reading earned the chance to draw level. Hal Robson-Kanu chased after a ball down the right side of the Fulham box and Fernando Amorebieta clipped the forward near the byline. Referee Simon Hooper pointed to the spot and Robson-Kanu coolly sent Lonergan the wrong way and passed it into the bottom left corner for 1-1.

On the half hour, Jake Cooper did well to stop Dembele in his tracks as he looked to break in behind after he'd charged down a Cooper  clearance. Then Cairney thundered a fierce effort at goal that cannoned into a Reading body before it could trouble Al Habsi.

Al Habsi did enough to keep a McCormack free kick out with a shoveled save on his goalline that he snaffled at the second attempt.

And Reading took the lead four minutes before the break. An outswinging free kick was headed clear but John won it back and Hector threaded a lovely first time ball back into John breaking beyond the Fulham line. Spotting Robson-Kanu in the middle, he dinked a delicate chip into the middle where HRK stooped to head home into an empty net from close range. 2-1.

Half-time: Reading 2 Fulham 1

Garath McCleary came on at the interval, replacing two-goal hero Robson-Kanu. But in the opening seconds of the second half, it was Yann Kermorgant who nearly added his name to the scoresheet, bringing down a lovely ball from Norwood, outsmuscling his marker and rifling a low shot across the face of goal and inches wide.

However, having awarded a penalty in exactly the same spot in the first half, referee Simon Cooper did the same six minutes into the second half when Cooper bundled the pacy Ryan Fredericks over inside the area. McCormack stepped up and passed the ball home to make it 2-2.

Reading came close to regaining the lead when Obita fed John whose sublime backheel found Quinn. From a tight angle he drilled the ball across the face of goal and won a corner. From that set piece, Norwood sent in a recycled cross that John won in the air but could only direct over the bar.

Deniss Rakels was introduced for Quinn soon after, before a lovely turn from Kermorgant led to a foul from McCormack which earned the Fulham captain a booking.

John forced Lonergan into a very good save with 20 minutes left and it took a brilliant clearance from Richards to deny Kermorgant a shot at the rebound.

Kermorgant was then very strong to tee up McCleary for an effort at goal, the substitute hitting it first time with his left foot but seeing it sail wide of the left upright.

Some more John trickery on the left saw him float a cross into the middle where Cooper got his head to it but couldn't keep it down to force a save from Lonergan. Then Rakels had an appeal for a penalty turned down when he scampered after a ball into the box.

Reading were looking the more likely to win it and McCleary's cross from the right nearly found Kermorgant who rose but couldn't get a clean contact on his header in the middle.

Then with three minutes left a good ball in from Norwood was met by the head of Rakels, but stretching to reach it he also couldn't keep it down and Lonergan plucked it out of the sky.

The visitors couldn't handle the threat of John who skipped past the last man to get to the byline and then went for goal from a narrow angle, only for Londergan to save at his near post with his legs.

And after five minutes of injury time, Reading ran out of time to win it. Brian McDermott's men will go into next Friday's FA Cup quarter-final unbeaten at Madejski Stadium in 2016.

Full-time: Reading 2 Fulham 2

Reading: Al Habsi, Gunter (c), Obita, Ferdinand, Cooper, Hector, Norwood, Quinn (Rakels 59), John, Robson-Kanu (McCleary HT), Kermorgant.
Subs: Bond, Evans, Williams, Piazon, Cox.
Yellow:

Fulham: Lonergan, Richards, Garbutt, Baird, Amorebieta, Fredericks (Kacaniklic 74), Madl, O'Hara (Tunnicliffe 67), McCormack, Cairney (Parker 81), Dembele.  
Subs: Lewis, Burn, Hyndman, Smith.
Yellow: Fredericks, McCormack, Tunnicliffe.

Referee: Mr S Hooper
Att: 17,859 (1,728 away)