Royals earn gutsy draw at Swansea
Swansea 2 (Michu 71, Routledge 78)
Reading 2 (Pogrebnyak 31, Hunt 44)
The Royals left the Liberty Stadium with a point after pulsating 2-2 draw with Swansea City.
The Swans had the better of the early play, but it was the visitors who seized the initiative when Pavel Pogrebnyak’s powerful strike slid under City goalkeeper Michel Vorm to hand the Royals the lead.
And moments before half-time, Noel Hunt superbly volleyed home a second, hammering Jobi McAnuff's deflected effort past Vorm to put McDermott's men in pole position.
But Swansea came back strong in the second half, and grabbed one back when Michu headed a deflected cross home, and then Routledge struck past the excellent Alex McCarthy to level late on.
McCarthy heroics kept Reading in the second half at times, but Jem Karacan's late header was cleared off the line by Williams to deny Reading all three points.
Swansea(4-4-2): Vorm; Chico, Williams, Rangel, Davies; Britton, Routledge, Dyer (Hernandez 62), Ki Sung-Yueng, Michu (De Guzman 86), Graham (Moore HT)
Subs: Tremmel, Tate, Scechter, Tiendalli
Reading (4-4-2): McCarthy; Cummings, Shorey, Gorkss, Mariappa; Karacan, Tabb (Robson-Kanu 89), McAnuff (c), Kebe; Hunt (Roberts 73), Pogrebnyak (Le Fondre 80)
Subs: Taylor, Pearce, Guthrie, McCleary.
Yellow: Mariappa, Tabb, Roberts
Referee: Mr M Dean
On a fine autumnal afternoon in south Wales, Brian McDermott made one change to the side which drew against Newcastle. Jay Tabb, making his full Premier League debut, was brought in for Mikele Leigertwood who failed to recover from a dead leg.
It was a cagey start to the match - the hosts perhaps having the better of the early exchanges with two half decent chances.
First, Swansea and Wales captain Ashley Williams headed wide, before left-back Ben Davies’ accurate cross found Danny Graham – but his header was tipped over superbly by an in-form Alex McCarthy.
The Royals continued to be pushed onto the back foot and very nearly paid for it. A clever through ball found Wayne Routledge – who shot straight at McCarthy.
As the half wore on though, there was an increasingly end-to-end feel about the first-half. Routledge fired over for Swansea before Hunt and Pogrebnyak linked up well to find space in City’s box – but the offside flag halted their chance.
It looked like a goal was coming – and it did. The Reading fans were in raptures on the half-hour mark when Pogrebnyak clinched Reading’s 100th Premier League goal.
After some tidy midfield play from the Royals, Jobi McAnuff picked out the Russian with a visionary through ball to enable him to score with a thumping strike – although City keeper Michel Vorm would have been disappointed after the ball seemed to creep under his frame.
The goal seemed to revitalise the Royals who added a second just before the break.
From Alex McCarthy’s goal-kick, the ball eventually fell to Hunt who had his shot blocked, before McAnuff’s strike took a strong ricochet and looped back to the Irishman. Hunt made no mistake with a terrific close-range volley into the roof of the net, sending him wheeling away in celebration.
Swansea came out of the blocks fast in the second half and almost reduced the deficit when substitute Luke Moore broke through on goal - but McCarthy again came to the Royals’ rescue with an outstanding save.
And the hosts came agonisingly close again when Moore headed Routledge’s excellent cross downwards – and McCarthy somehow forced the ball onto the post before Nicky Shorey hacked it clear.
Reading fans then had their hearts in their mouths once again. Ki Sung-Yueng raced forward, weaving in and out before firing at McCarthy’s goal – but the 22-year-old made another stunning save – guiding the ball on to the post to keep the Swans at bay.
McCarthy was having the game of his life – and produced heroics once again to deny a goal-bound header with a phenomenal low save.
But City’s relentless pressure soon told. Michu got on the end of a deflected cross to head past the faultless McCarthy to make it 2-1.
Suddenly, with their tails up, it became one way traffic at the Liberty – Moore found himself in a dangerous position ahead of Reading’s defence, and forced McCarthy into an athletic save.
The Royals were working hard to weather the persistent Swansea storm – with Gorkss making an important clearance close to goal with City strikers lurking.
With little more than ten minutes remaining, Swansea scored that vital second. An excellent forward-flowing one-touch move resulted in Routledge galloping clear to strike past McCarthy.
It was end-to-end stuff in a frantic finish to the match and it was Reading who were a few inches away from snatching all three points at the death. With Vorm out of his goal, Karacan looped a headed effort goalwards and it was cleared off the line by Ashley Williams.
And McDermott's men were determined to leave the Liberty with a Premier League win to their name – so nearly registering it when Kebe skewed a chance just wide before a late header flew over from an injury time Shorey corner.
That was to be the last serious chance of the match. It could have been more – but Reading were able to take a point from south Wales after a truly breathless encounter.