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Report | Royals dig deep for crucial win

Barrow fires late to give Reading vital victory

2 March 2019

Mo Barrow came off the bench to fire Reading to a vital victory away at Ipswich Town on Saturday afternoon.

Nélson Oliveira had fired the Royals in front in the first half, but Ipswich thought they had snatched a point after Gwion Edwards fired them level late in the second half.

But Barrow kept his cool at the crucial moment in the 90th minute to fire Reading to three all-important points against the Tractor Boys.

Reading started at Portman Road with the same side that took on Rotherham United at Madejski Stadium last weekend, with Danny Loader back among the substitutes after bagging a hat-trick for our Under-23s on Monday.

The Royals started well at Portman Road, with Nélson Oliveira doing well to spin away from his man and make tracks on the left early on. He hung up a cross towards the far post with Yakou Méïté steaming into the box, but Myles Kenlock was able to get a crucial head on it to clear.

Ovie Ejaria then won back possession in midfield, with play spreading to Méïté on the right. He was able to cut back on his left and fire, narrowly past the post with Bartosz Bialkowski at full stretch.

There were several nibbling challenges in midfield, with both teams keenly aware of the ramifications of the result on Saturday afternoon. Tyler Blackett and Oliveira were both recipients of early yellow cards as the referee aimed to keep on top of proceedings.

But the Royals would take the lead midway through the first half, with superb vision from Blackett seeing him chip over the top for Garath McCleary to chase. He powered his way into the area and laid off for Oliveira in plenty of room, who took a touch and curled past Bialkowski into the top corner for his third Royals goal. 

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And Reading would still have to be on their guard, with Ipswich playing a high attacking line that tried to pick off Reading's passes out from the back. 

Reading kept up the attacking pressure themselves, however, with McCleary finding Swift in space infield. The playmaker took aim from range, bending a matter of inches past the upright.

José Gomes' side would go close again shortly afterwards, as Blackett improvised with a backheel to nutmeg his marker and set McCleary off on another surging run, cutting in on his own this time and forcing James Collins into a last-ditch block in the box.

Oliveira, on loan from Norwich, was unsurprisingly the villain of the piece from the perspective of the home support, but he showed great tenacity to win possession near the corner flag and square back to Swift on the edge of the area. He shot first time, but it didn't have enough power to really trouble Bialkowski.

Reading were the dominant attacking force in the first period, and almost had a second when the ball sat up nicely for Méïté in the box, getting an overhead kick on target and forcing Bialkowski into a smart catch on his line.

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Emi Martínez almost provided an old-fashioned route one assist, spotting the lively McCleary on another run and picking him out with a long kick from his hands. The winger found his way into the box and put a cross-goal effort wide in another good chance for Reading.

With time ticking on towards half time, Ipswich countered as Quaner won the loose ball in midfield. He spread play to Alan Judge to the right of the box, shooting low first time, but Martínez was able to dive well and gather.

Soon afterwards, the hosts had their best chance of the half as a free-kick was cleared and put back into the box by Quaner, touched across goal by Teddy Bishop into the path of Jon Nolan, with Martínez making an outstanding point-blank save to stop him.

The last kick of the half, though, saw Swift angle in a low corner straight at goal, almost catching Bialkowski out as he could only scramble behind, and the referee called time on a consummate first half performance from the Royals.

Half time | Ipswich Town 0-1 Reading

The hosts tried to turn the tide from the off in the second period, making a double change at the break as central midfielder, Cole Skuse and Wales international winger, Gwion Edwards entered the fray.

Town carried the early impetus as they searched for a leveller, but struggled to create too much before sub Edwards got free on the right, floating a cross in as Andy Yiadom improvised to put in an overhead clearance. 

The Royals had a nervy moment as Judge was picked out on the left, getting forward and firing straight at Martínez, who only parried back into the box and the referee was quick to wave away subsequent penalty appeals as the midfielder went down in the box.

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But as Reading broke the other end, goalscorer Oliveira went down under the challenge of Toto Nsiala, falling awkwardly and holding his hamstring, signalling to the bench to bring him off straight away. Mo Barrow was brought on in his place, with Méïté moving into the middle and taking up the striker's role.

And as Skuse powered a strike over the bar for Ipswich, Martínez seemed to land awkwardly from his dive and also had medical attention, but he carried on and Matt Miazga took the resulting goal kick.

The 23,000-strong crowd audibly recoiled as Nolan lunged in cynically on Swift in midfield, but a yellow card was the verdict from a nasty-looking tackle.

An almost catastrophic deflection saw Yiadom touch back towards goal after a powerful cross came in, with Martínez flying across goal to claw the ball out of the top corner - the Arsenal loanee pulling off a save of which David Seaman would be proud.

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An away following of 1,495 travelling Royals were roaring their side on throughout, with Town throwing an ever-increasing amount of men forward to try and equalise.

Callum Harriott was introduced for a fresh injection of pace in the final 10 minutes, with Reading's backs firmly against the wall at Portman Road.

But the hosts' persistence paid off, with the equaliser coming seven minutes from time. A chipped ball into the box found Edwards at the back post, who powerfully volleyed past Martínez and equalised.

Barrow was soon scythed down in midfield by the Ipswich goalscorer, prompting tempers to flare up between the teams - but a yellow card was the verdict once more from the referee.

But there was another twist in the tale at Portman Road. Méïté showed remarkable tenacity and willing in winning the ball in midfield.

Ipswich were stretched and the Ivorian set Barrow off on one of his trademark runs forward. What a time to score in the context of this season. Barrow powered into the area and made no mistake in slotting past Bialkowski in the dying embers of added time.

Six minutes were added, and Ipswich weren't done yet. Martínez pulled off another fantastic flying save to deny Edwards once again, and Town were throwing themselves at it to try and peg Reading back again.

Full time | Ipswich Town 1-2 Reading

Ipswich Town: Bialkowski, Bree (Edwards HT), Collins (Nsiala 40), Pennington, Kenlock, Chambers (c), Chalobah (Skuse HT), Nolan, Judge, Bishop, Quaner.
Subs: Gerken, Jackson, Downes, Dozzell.
Goals: Edwards 83
Yellow: Nolan, Edwards

Reading: Martínez, Yiadom, Miazga, Moore (c), Blackett, Ejaria (Loader 89), Baker, Swift, McCleary (Harriott 81), Méïté, Oliveira (Barrow 58).
Subs: Walker, Gunter, O'Shea, McShane.
Goals: Oliveira 19, Barrow 90
Yellow: Blackett, Oliveira, Moore, Barrow

Attendance: 23,009 (1,495 away)
Referee: Geoff Eltringham


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