Lucas Piazon's late equaliser denied Royals all three points as Fulham and Reading played out a 1-1 draw at Madejski Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
- Tomas Kalas sent off for Fulham in the first minute of the game
- Liam Kelly scores his third goal in two games
- Lucas Piazon equalises against the run of play eight minutes from time
The game sprung into life immediately, with Mo Barrow spinning away from Tomas Kalas on the edge of the area, with the defender pulling Barrow down when he was clear on goal, receiving his marching orders after just 35 seconds!
An immediate defensive re-shuffle and tactical substitution from Slaviša Jokanoviç forced the visitors into a different shape with the man disadvantage, but still made life difficult for the Royals in the opening exchanges.
Royals began to force the initiative, though, as Chris Gunter turned away from his man on the right hand side. He lifted a left-footed cross onto the head of the rising Jo Mendes, tipped around the post by a sprawling David Button.
Jaap Stam’s side, playing in front of a Madejski crowd for the first time in the league this season, pressed high and dominated possession throughout the first half but came up against a resolute defensive line and found it tough to find openings.
A mix-up at a goal kick around the half-hour mark let double midweek goalscorer Liam Kelly steal the ball on the 18-yard line and surge at goal. Button did well to narrow the angle, with Kelly’s outside of the boot shot blocked wide in the best chance of the half.
A flash of pace from Barrow saw him thread the ball through to Tyler Blackett in the area, who squared to John Swift but he was shepherded away from goal and his cross was too deep for a Reading head.
The visitors had a late surge of pressure as the half drew to a conclusion, former Royal Oliver Norwood lashed a first-time shot from 25 yards out, forcing an acrobatic tip over the bar in Vito Mannose’s first real test of the game.
Half-time: Reading 0-0 Fulham
The Royals burst out in the second half with renewed vigour as they searched for the crucial opener, Tiago Ilori's 30-yard drive was well held by Button.
The Fulham stopper proved to be the busiest man on the pitch, diving superbly to push Swift’s top corner-bound curling effort around the post.
The 10-man visitors were still pushing forward, though, with captain Sone Aluko finding space from 20 yards but his dipping effort did not trouble Mannone.
The deadlock was finally broken on the hour mark, with Barrow crossing for Mendes at the far post, laying off first time to Kelly who arrowed a powerful drive into the bottom corner.
Royals will feel that the lead should have been doubled immediately after the opener, Blackett crossing in with goalkeeper Button off his line, but Mendes could not quite guide his header on target under pressure.
Swift could have also doubled Reading's lead soon after, forcing space at the left hand post but his effort was deflected off target.
Those missed chances proved to be costly for the Royals, with an unexpected equaliser late on.
Substitute Lucas Piazon broke clean through and one-on-one with Mannone, coolly slotting into the bottom corner to square proceedings against the run of play.
A frantic end to the game ensued, with chances at both ends and cries for handball for the visitors as Liam Moore blocked while going to ground, with nothing given by the referee.
Substitute Pelle Clement got the ball at the other end, chipping for Mendes in the six-yard area but his audacious overhead kick sailed over the bar.
Full-time: Reading 1-1 Fulham
Reading: Mannone, Gunter, Blackett, Moore, McShane (c), Ilori (Clement 73), Evans (Van den Berg 58), Kelly, Swift, Barrow (Popa 83), Mendes.
Unused subs: Jaakkola, Quinn, Rinomhota, Smith.
Goal: Kelly (61).
Yellow: Moore, Ilori, Swift.
Fulham: Button, Fredericks, Sessegnon, Kalas, Ream, McDonald, Norwood, Johansen (Kamara 76), Ayite (Piazon 50), Kebano (Odoi 5), Aluko (c).
Unused subs: Djalo, Edun, Rodak, Cisse.
Goal: Piazon (82).