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Honours even

1 October 2013

Hal strike earns Royals point

Barnsley 1 (O'Grady 79)
Reading 1 (Robson-Kanu 51)

The Royals extended their unbeaten league run to six games with a hard-earned point at Barnsley this evening.

Nigel Adkins' men took the lead through Hal Robson-Kanu's stunning left-footed effort from the edge of the box just after half time.

But Barnsley hit back with just over ten minutes left on the clock, Chris O'Grady firing into the bottom right corner from just inside the area to level.

Reading hit the crossbar from a deep corner, Billy Sharp was introduced late in the game in an attempt to regain the lead, while former Royal Tomasz Cywka forced Alex McCarthy into a flying save in the dying stages, but when the final whistle blew the honours were even.

Barnsley: Butland, Ramage, Kennedy, Cranie (c), Wiseman, Perkins, Fox (Dawson 80), McCourt, Mellis (Cywka 76), Scotland (Pedersen 66), O'Grady.
Subs: Jennings, Hassell, O'Brien, Noble-Lazarus.
Yellow: Mellis, Scotland, McCourt

Reading line-up: McCarthy, Gunter, Kelly, Morrison (c), Pearce, Guthrie (Akpan 72), Baird, McCleary (McAnuff 67), Robson-Kanu, Le Fondre (Sharp 85), Pogrebnyak.
Subs: Federici, Cummings, Gorkss, Obita.
Yellow: Morrison, McAnuff, Pogrebnyak

Referee: Mr C Sarginson

Attendance: 9,084 (357 away)

First Half 

The game started at a good tempo. Jacob Mellis made good early progress down the left and reached the byline, cutting the ball back to the edge of the six yard box but just behind Jason Scotland who couldn't hook his left boot around it to direct it goalwards.

Moments later, Reading threatened for the first time, McCleary whipping in a sizzling cross from the left that flew just over the leap of Le Fondre and Pogrebnyak's far post slide.

David Perkins tested McCarthy's handling with an effort from distance while Scotland rifled an effort wide of the left post as the hosts began brightly.

After a quarter of an hour, McCarthy was forced into a good low save to his left, to make sure a fizzing low Scotland effort didn't creep inside his post.

Then Paddy McCourt burst down the right and arrowed a dangerous low cross into the Royals' box which O'Grady came very close to touching home on the slide.

But Reading began to grow into the game and, soon after, McCleary beat his man for pace down the left and Hal Robson-Kanu connected with his centre at the near post but couldn't direct it on target.

Before the half hour mark, Gunter won a free kick after he was dragged to the ground by Mellis and Robson-Kanu's inswinging set piece was nodded just wide of the right post by a Tykes defender.

David Fox fired into the body of McCarthy after some neat work from the hosts on the edge of the Royals' area, then at the other end Pogrebnyak cut in from the right and rifled a left-footed effort at Butland's goal only for it to be charged down and deflect out for a corner.

The final action of the first period belonged to the home side though, McCourt arrowing a deflected right-footed drive just wide to earn a corner which Reading scrapped clear.

Second half

Moments after the restart, Pogrebnyak looked to race onto a ball over the top but Le Fondre had been flagged for offside despite not interfering with play, so the move was halted by the referee.

Fox went close at the other end, but then Le Fondre sprung the offside trap to perfection and scampered into acres of space down the left side of the area. He cut inside a sliding challenge to be faced with just Butland to beat, but the young stopper parried his right-footed bullet and Alfie's follow-up was hooked high and wide of the target.

Reading did take the lead before the hour mark though. Robson-Kanu collected the ball on the edge of the Tykes' box, controlled it and whistled a superb left-footed drive past the dive of Butland and into the bottom right corner from 22 yards out.

McCarthy had to produce a smart save to deny McCourt at the other end moments later and the ball was hacked clear before Scotland could swipe the loose ball towards a gaping goal.

Two Fox free kicks were repelled by the Royals' wall as Barnsley sought a swift reply, but Reading were looking for a second - Chris Gunter bombing forward and smashing a nicely struck effort just over the bar.

A fit again Jobi McAnuff came on for McCleary and almost made an impact with his first touch, racing onto Pogrebnyak's ball down the left and crossing low in to the box but just behind Robson-Kanu who couldn't quite flick it on target.

Barnsley's substitute almost made a similar impact, Marcus Pedersen scuttling in from the left and shooting, but McCarthy scrambled to his right to keep the deflected effort out.

With a quarter of an hour remaining, Akpan fed Le Fondre on the edge of the Tykes box and Butland pulled off a superb fingertip save to push the striker's fierce effort over the bar.

And from the subsequent corner, a combination of Ramage and Morrison at the far post bundled the ball against the Barnsley crossbar at the far post with Butland completely stranded.

With ten minutes left though, the home side drew level through Chris O'Grady. Defending deep, Reading couldn't clear their lines and the striker received it just inside the box, had time to take a touch, swivel and fizz a right-footed effort into the bottom right corner.

Barnsley flocked forward in search of a winner, but Reading introduced Billy Sharp to signal their desire for three points too. Former Royal Tomasz Cywka came the closest, forcing McCarthy into a good diving save to his left late on. But despite a frantic end to the game, the points were shared.

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