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Match Reports

Cardiff City (h) 020415

4 April 2015

Royals thwarted by late leveller

  • Pogrebnyak stabs home in 4th minute!
  • Hector second half header hits the crossbar
  • McAleny sweeps home 90th minute equaliser
  • Ake and Appiah make Reading debuts
Cardiff City struck a 90th minute equaliser to deny Steve Clarke's side a victory they largely deserved at Madejski Stadium this afternoon.

Pavel Pogrebnyak had put the home side ahead with the game only four minutes old, steering Garath McCleary's downward header past David Marshall.

And the Royals had chances to score more in a game they dominated, Michael Hector coming closest with a header that hit the crossbar moments after substitute Kwesi Appiah had seen a shot well saved.

But Conor McAleny wrapped his right boot around a cross from the right to steer a sweetly-struck first time effort past Federici and inside the left post to make it 1-1 late on.

Reading:Federici, Gunter, Obita, Pearce (c), Hector, Akpan, Ake, McCleary (Norwood 74), Robson-Kanu (Blackman 85), Mackie (Appiah 68), Pogrebnyak.
Subs: Andersen, Knight, Karacan, Yakubu.

Cardiff City: Marshall (c), Peltier (Malone 74), Fabio, Ecuele Manga, Morrison, Gunnarsson, McAleny, Ralls (Kennedy 65), Whittingham, Noone, Doyle (Mason 65).
Subs: Moore, Gabbidon, Adeyemi, O'Keefe.

Att: 17,953 (1,780 away)

First Half

The Royals got off to the perfect start, opening the scoring within the first five minutes. Jordan Obita's cross from the left sailed to McCleary inside the box who nodded the ball down for Pavel Pogrebnyak to turn home, first time with an outstretched leg from six yards out.

With less than 20 minutes played, a McCleary corner was delivered dangerously into the box and a completely unmarked Pearce was denied a free header on goal by a near post flick on from his defensive partner Hector, who unknowingly just tried to help the ball into the City box.

Cardiff received their first sight of goal soon after, Fabio was played in down the left and Alex Pearce did enough with his body to block the full-back's shot behind for a Cardiff corner.

Pogrebnyak was causing Cardiff concern though and the big Russian weaved his way through a couple of tackles to pull a ball across the box from the left, only for Gunnarsson to clear for the visitors.

McCleary struck a sweet half volley with ten minutes of the half remaining, but it bulleted into the head of Hal Robson-Kanu en route to goal and the City goal remained untroubled.

Cardiff threatened from a couple of long throws into the Royals box, but neither side had another clear cut chance in front of goal before the whistle sounded for half-time.

Second half

The Bluebirds broke through McAleny early in the second half and Joe Ralls threaded a ball back looking for McAleny who had continued his run. But the pass had too much weight on it and Federici could see the ball behind for a goal kick.

Then a mistake by Ecuele Manga saw McCleary nip in to intercept a crossfield ball to Morrison and scurry into the box. Morrison recovered enough to make the chance difficult and McCleary stabbed an effort just wide.

Only an outstretched Morrison leg prevented Robson-Kanu finding Pogrebnyak in space at one end, then Federici had to get down well to his right to push a Craig Noone effort away from danger.

Ecuele Manga got his head to a floated far post free kick soon after a double substitution for the visitors, but it dropped well wide of the target.

Kwesi Appiah came off the bench for the hosts meanwhile and within seconds of being on the pitch he was in on goal when he scampered onto a loose back pass. Marshall came off his line to narrow the angle and the ball wriggled under the keeper who just managed to drop on it before Appiah could take full advantage.

Reading wanted a second, McCleary nutmegging Fabio before his pull back was cut out before it could find the Crystal Palace loaneer, then Hector powering forward from the back only to be dispossessed before he could get a cross in.

Then, with less than 20 minutes remaining, Pogrebnyak crossed into the box from the left and the ball fell to Appiah who was denied by a great save from Marshall when he pulled the trigger. From the resulting corner, Hector headed the ball down into the ground up and against the crossbar as the Royals came close to doubling their advantage.

Time was ticking away, but Jordan Obita showed two deft touches to beat two men down the left only for his cross to be cleared before it could reach a blue and white hooped target in the middle.

And just as it seemed the Royals would be walking away with maximum points, Cardiff struck! A nice move down the right resulted in a cross that Conor McAleny did well to sweep past Federici from just inside the box.

Three minutes of injury time came and wend and the points were shared. It was a point that Russell Slade's men barely deserved but perhaps saw the Royals pay for not putting a fixture they controlled out of their opponents' reach.

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