Man City 1-0 Reading
Man City 1 (Barry 90)
A hugely brave performance from the Royals was robbed of its rewards by a heartbreaking injury time strike from Gareth Barry.
Brian McDermott’s men defended superbly throughout, consistently frustrating the Premier League Champions, and even created chances of their own as Alex Pearce twice headed corner kicks over the bar.
However, with the visiting fans ready to proudly applaud a deserved point – Barry bundled into Nicky Shorey at the far post before emphatically heading past Federici.
Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, K Toure, Barry, Nastasic, Rekik (Milner 84), Silva, Y Toure (C), Garcia (Dzeko 59), Aguero, Tevez (Sinclair 75)
Subs: Wright, Lescott, Kompany, Razak
Booked: Aguero, Y Toure
Reading: Federici, Gunter, Harte (Shorey 87), Mariappa, Pearce, Leigertwood, Karacan (Guthrie 71), Tabb, McAnuff, Kebe, Pogrebnyak
Subs: Taylor, Gorkss, Robson-Kanu, Le Fondre, Hunt
Booked: Mariappa, Gunter, Leigertwood
The first action of the game brought a yellow card for Adrian Mariappa in the opening two minutes as the Royals centre back clattered into the back of Carlos Tevez – earning a place in Mike Dean’s book.
Brian McDermott’s men didn’t seem too intimidated in the opening ten minutes, Kebe almost taking advantage of a misplaced pass from Joe Harte – only to see his cross well cleared, before Jobi McAnuff bundled a header off target after more good work by the Malian midfielder.
City naturally showed their class when give the chance – Aguero causing problems by running at the heart of the visitors’ backline, whilst David Silva fired just wide after neat link up play with Tevez.
Federici pulled off a smart save moments later, denying Tevez from close range as the Argentinean broke the offside trap.
The Premier League champions were enjoying a spell of intense pressure at that stage, with the Royals forced to deal with a series of corner kicks fired into the heart of their box.
Reading weathered that storm, with their yellow brick wall presenting a problem for City for the first half hour – Mancini’s men having to show distinct patience as they attempted to blast their way through.
They came close in the 35th minute, Tevez crossing to Barry – whose powerful header was well held by Federici, whilst Zabaleta’s deflected shot dipped narrowly over the bar four minutes before the break.
The half time whistle went, goalless at the break it was – and the travelling support gave a deserved ovation to their side for a resilient display in the opening 45 minutes.
The Royals knew what to expect in the second period – the home support were going to settle for nothing short of three points, as Tevez’s free-kick was tipped away from danger by Federici in the 50th minute.
But a golden chance would fall at the other end, to Alex Pearce two minute’s later – as a superb corner from Harte found the centre half at the far post, who headed over the bar.
Roberto Mancini was not going to hold back however – as he through on Edin Dzeko for midfielder Javi Garcia shortly before the hour mark.
City exhibited fantastic football at times, with a quick series of passes almost resulting in Dzeko heading into an empty net after 63 minutes – but the giant striker saw the ball fly across the six yard box and away from danger.
The Bosnian forward came closer shortly afterwards – powering a header millimetres over the bar.
There were vociferous shouts for a penalty from the away support as Pogrebnyak did superbly to bundle down the left wing before crossing into the middle. The on-rushing Tabb, although some distance from reaching the cross, was sent flying to to the floor by Rekik – but all appeals were waved away by Mr Dean.
Despite repeated attempts by the home side to throw men forward, McDermott’s men still showed intent at times – another corner, this time from McAnuff, headed off target by Pearce.
At the opposite end of the pitch, Scott Sinclar – a name all too familiar to Reading fans after his performance in the 2011 play-off final – danced in from the left wing before slicing a long distance effort wide.
Jimmy Kebe’s defensive efforts were, at times, inspirational for the away side – and the Malian was once again doing his bit for the cause as he put Silva off his stride enough for the diminutive Spaniard to head off target from close range in the dying stages.
Aguero also created a half chance, but could only fire into the side netting from an extremely tight angle as Leigertwood and Shorey did enough to push him out wide.
But, as has happened so often in the Premier League this season for the Royals – heartbreak was just around the corner. A dipping cross to the far post was met emphatically by Barry – who headed home past Federici.
There were strong calls for a foul from the men in yellow, yet nothing was given – and a harsh, harsh defeat was inflicted on the visitors.