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Late Cardiff leveller denies Royals win

Entertaining affair ends all square despite Reading taking a two-goal lead

11 December 2017

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An injury time equaliser denied Reading victory at home to high-flying Cardiff City this evening as Lee Tomlin was awarded a goal via goalline technology at the very end of a topsy-turvy but entertaining affair.

  • Callum Paterson glances a header into his own net to hand Reading the lead
  • Barrow drills home a second via a deflection off Joe Bennett inside a crowded box
  • Neil Warnock is sent to the stands in the second half
  • A Joe Bennett thunderbolt pulls one back for the visitors with eight minutes remaining.
  • Lee Tomlin hammers home an injury time equaliser which is awarded by goalline technology
  • Paul McShane heads against the woodwork with the last touch of the match.

Royals boss Jaap Stam named the same eleven for the fourth game in a row and the teamsheet was unchanged for the third successive fixture as the substitutes bench remained the same. Sean Morrison captained Cardiff back at the stadium where he plied his trade, while former Royals Matthew Connolly and Greg Halford were named on the Bluebirds' bench.

Five minutes gone and Barrow earned the space down the left to cross low into the middle, but before it could reach Edwards in the box it was hacked out to Gunter. He resupplied a cross, but it deflected off a City head to loop kindly into the arms of Neil Etheridge.

A lovely piece of skill from Barrow saw him beat Ecuele Manga tight on the left touchline and race forwards. He looked to pull the ball back to Kermorgant on the edge of the box, but City read it and cleared before it could reach the Frenchman's feet.

At the other end though, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing forced the first save. He broke at pace down the left and drilled a shot at the near post where it cannoned into Mannone's chest and flew to safety.

Barrow and Gunter combined down the left soon after and the latter's low cross was passed behind by a cautious Morrison. And then with a quarter of an hour played, the Royals took the lead - through an own goal from Callum Paterson. Liam Kelly delivered a vicious inswinging corner and Paterson glanced the ball past a helpless Etheridge for 1-0.

Six minutes later and a good opportunity to make it 2-0. Aluko took on two and earned a yard to cross brilliantly towards the edge of the six yard box. Kermorgant rose highest and won his header cleanly, but could only direct it back across the face of goal and wide.

The direct route almost worked next for the dominant Royals, Mannone passing it out to Bacuna who swept an early ball forward for Barrow. He had the beating of Ecuele Manga but the right-back did enough to put the pacy Barrow off his stride and allow Etheridge race to the edge of his area to collect.

Junior Hoilett connected with a diving header to arrow an effort towards Mannone's goal on the half hour, but under pressure from McShane he skied his effort over the crossbar.

But Mannone was needed to make a save from a swerving powerfully hit effort from Ralls who was denied by the Italian who got down low to his left.

Morrison had to be withdrawn as Neil Warnock introduced Lee Peltier, but Kelly nearly unlocked the visitors' defence with a well-placed pass into the path of Aluko - but the forward on the stretch couldn't bring the fizzed ball under control in a good position. 

And with four minutes of the half remaining,. Reading doubled their lead. A Kelly corner was headed clear but Barrow followed it up with a hooked left-footed drive that whistled back into a crowded box. It took a vital deflection to bobble past a wrongfooted Etheridge for 2-0.

And moments after the restart, Barrow was able to stretch his legs and scamper in behind the City back line. Bamba came across to block his shot on the slide however. And after Mannone calmly caught a hooked overhead from Bamba in with the last kick of the half, the teams headed into the warmth of the dressing rooms with the hosts two goals to the good.

Half time | Reading 2-0 Cardiff City

In the opening minutes of the second half, Mannone was alert to speed off his line to dive at the feet of Ralls who had darted onto a clever reverse pass in behind the Reading defence. And the Bluebirds had begin the half brightly - Reading needed to scramble the ball away through Van den Berg soon after.

But Reading came close to a third twice - Aluko cannily dragged the ball back inside the box but arrowed a right-footed shot over the crossbar. And then Etheridge's hurried clearance from a back pass was brought down by Edwards and it fell to Kermorgant who placed a right-footed effort towards the bottom left corner, only for a recovering Etheridge to palm it away.

The second half was wide open and Hoilett squandered a golden opportunity to halve the deficit when he got on the end of a Mendez-Laing inswinging cross but nodded the ball into the ground and up and over the crossbar with Mannone stranded.

A lovely ball from Kelly found Bacuna powering into the box from the right side, but a slight arm on his shoulder from a City defender forced him to take the ball too close to the byline and he was unable to pull a cross back in the end.

A sublime move down the right this time saw Aluko release the overlapping Kelly and his low centre was toed behind by Peltier as Kermorgant looked to get the decisive touch.

Barrow stayed strong under pressure from Ecuele Manga to release Gunter down the left into the Cardiff box but his passed cut back couldn't find Edwards arriving and it was easily cleared.

City were certainly pressing for a goal which would get them right back into the encounter and Damour hacked the ball out of Mannone's gloves as the Royals stopper collected a long throw that had been catapulted into the Reading area.

A frustrated Neil Warnock had already been warned by referee Stephen Martin before he was sent to the stands for his conduct on the touchline. But still the game was not out of reach for City who were pushing for a goal only to see Mannone gobble up a low drive from substitute Lee Tomlin.

And the away side threw the result into doubt with a goal that had been coming - Joe Bennett volleying a quite superb left-footed effort past Mannone to make it 2-1 with seven minutes remaining.

Cardiff were looking strong in the final stages and Mannone gratefully jumped on a knock down from a dinked free kick from the left. But substitute Adrian Popa curled a cross towards the top right corner only for Etheridge to fingertip it over his bar at the other end.

But as five minutes of injury time wwere signalled, Cardiff stole an equaliser. Bamba directed a floated header against the crossbar and Tomlin pounced on the rebound, hammering home off the underside of the bar - and referee Martin had the signal from goalline technology that it had crossed the line.

Yet Reading nearly nicked the win with the final touch of the game. Edwards stood a cross up to the back post where McShane leapt to head against the woodwork. The game ended all square and Reading's unbeaten run had been extended to five. But City fans were delighted with a point.

Full time | Reading 2-2 Cardiff City

Reading: Mannone, Bacuna, Gunter, McShane (c), Moore, Van den Berg, Edwards, Kelly (Bodvarsson 87), Aluko (Popa 88), Barrow, Kermorgant.
Subs: Jaakkola, Blackett, Ilori, Clement, Beerens.
Yellow: Kelly
Goals: Paterson og 16, Barrow 42

Cardiff City: Etheridge, Ralls, Bennett, Bamba, Morrison (c) (Peltier 34), Ecuele Manga, Mendez-Laing, Damour, Hoilett, Paterson (Tomlin 79), Bogle (Feeney 81). 
Subs: Murphy, Connolly, Halford, Pilkington.
Yellow: Bogle
Goals: Bennett 82, Tomlin 90

Referee: Mr S Martin
Att: 11,307 (1,383 away)

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