What a comeback!The Royals pulled off a fabulous turnaround at Ashton Gate after falling behind to a Tammy Abraham brace. A brilliant second half performance from Jaap's men saw Liam Kelly score his first Reading goal before two late strikes from Yann Kermorgant gave the Royals a sensational late win on the road, sending the traveling fans into delirium.
Royals boss Jaap Stam made three changes to the starting eleven that began the abandoned home fixture against Fulham three days earlier, with captain Paul McShane coming into defence despite nursing a hand injury. Roy Beerens returned to the starting line-up in place of the injured Callum Harriott, while John Swift made his first start for the Royals since a 3-0 away win at Wigan at the start of November.
The first shot in anger from either side wasn’t until the 12th minute in a slow start to the game. Robins’ midfielder Joe Bryan picked up the ball midway inside the Reading half and after a short run fired his effort high over Ali Al-Habsi’s crossbar.
The Royals were quick to respond to the opportunity however working their first chance of the contest a minute later, when Swift was picked out after a slick Reading counter attack. The midfielder’s low shot on the angle seemed to lack power, but was dropped by Frank Fielding, with the bouncing ball scrambled clear by the hosts.
Moments after Reading were at it again, this time it was McCleary causing problems for the Bristol back-line with the forward creating space inside the opposition penalty box before hammering a low left footed effort goal-ward. Fielding was well placed to deal with the shot, this time managing to hold onto the stinging drive.
The minutes that ensued saw few chances for either side, with the game turning into a midfield contest. Just as it seemed the Royals were gaining the upper hand, the home side struck against the run of play.
A misplaced pass from Al-Habsi was pounced upon by the ever busy Bryan, whose low shot could only be parried by the Reading keeper into the path of Abraham. The young striker made no mistake, burying his chance from five yards out to hand City a first half lead.
Jaap’s side went about looking for a way back into the game, and ten minutes from the break they went close when Danny William’s side-footed volley bounced just wide of the Robins’ upright.
The Royals continued to press, and just as the clock ticked onto the 45th minute Yann Kermorgant went within a whisker of levelling the scores. Fine work on the left for Tyler Blackett saw the full-back whip a searching cross into the Bristol box picking out the Frenchman on the penalty spot. Kermorgant’s powerful header clattered back off the crossbar with Fielding well beaten in the Bristol City goal but the rebound was hacked clear.
Half-time: Bristol City 1-0 Reading
Two minutes into the second period and the home side had doubled their lead. A powerful run from Luke Freeman opened up space inside the Reading half and his ball through to O’Dowda who was brought down inside the box by Blackett, with the referee pointing to the spot.
Abrahams stepped up to net his and Bristol’s second, sending Al-Habsi the wrong way with a well taken spot-kick.
As the second half progressed Bristol were forced deeper and deeper by the Royals who upped the tempo having fallen two goals down.
The home side were looking resilient in their defending with Reading finding it difficult to create any clear cut chances. The introduction of Liam Kelly with 25 minutes to play seemed to give the Royals an extra dimension and the youngster fired his side back into the game on the 72nd minute.
A fine run down the right flank from Garath McCleary saw the wide run to the by-line and pull back a low cross which found the feet of Kelly in the middle of the box. The Academy graduate hit a brilliant shot on the turn, finding the bottom right hand corner of the net and setting up an exciting final quarter of the game.
The Reading pressure continued to build, with Jaap Stam’s side throwing everything at their opposition as they looked for an equaliser. Cracks were beginning to show in the Robin’s defence and with four minutes to play the Royals had their richly deserved equaliser. A fast flowing move from the Royals saw Kelly in space on the right hand side of the Bristol penalty area, his cross found Kermorgant in the middle and the striker slammed the ball home.
Reading were riding a wave of momentum and when five minutes added time was shown by the fourth official a roar went up from the traveling fans. With a couple of minutes left to play Kermorgant found space on the edge of the box and unleashed a brilliant drive which flew past Fielding and into the net to win the game for Reading in dramatic fashion.
Full-time: Bristol City 2-3 Reading
Bristol City: Fielding, Golbourne, Little, Bryan, Flint, Smith (c), Brownhill, O'Dowda (Reid 61), Freeman, Matthews, Abraham.
Subs: Tomlin, O'Donnell, Engvall, Wilbraham, Paterson, Kelly.
Goals: Abraham 28' 47
Yellow: Little, Abaraham
Reading: Al-Habsi, Gunter (c), Blackett (Obita 55), L.Moore, McShane, Van den Berg, Williams, Swift (Kelly 66), Beerens, McCleary (Meite 83), Kermorgant.
Subs: S.Moore, Cooper, Evans, Samuel.
Goals: Kelly 72, Kermorgant 86, 90
Yellow: Kermorgant, Van den Berg, Moore