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Match Reports

📝 Royals leave Cardiff with a point after Méïté strikes again

Our ac action as it unfolded at the Cardiff City Stadium

31 January 2020

Reading came away from playing Cardiff City with a well-earned point on Friday night, as the teams played out a 1-1 draw at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Yakou Méïté opened the scoring early on for the visitors with a powerful header, with the Royals taking a lead into half time in South Wales.

Their hosts have the third-best home record in the Championship for a reason, though, and were able to equalise through Callum Paterson after 70 minutes.

Reading started with several changes following their midweek encounter against Bristol City, with Tom McIntyre, Sam Baldock and Méïté all recalled to the XI on Friday night.

An even start between the teams saw both sides settle quickly into their rhythm at the Cardiff City Stadium, with the hosts having only lost once on home turf all season in the Sky Bet Championship.

But with just seven minutes on the clock, the Royals had the lead. An incisive pass through midfield from Ovie Ejaria set Sam Baldock off towards goal. He cut back inside for John Swift to take the ball into the area, who chipped back to the edge of the six-yard area for Méïté to power a header at goal.

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Alex Smithies got a hand to it, but the Ivorian's effort crept over the line and the Royals had themselves an early lead.

Long-throw specialist Will Vaulks was in the line-up for the Bluebirds, but he opted to go short shortly afterwards as Cardiff worked the ball towards Lee Tomlin on the edge of the box.

He shot first time from 20 yards, but it didn't trouble Rafael as he watched the ball float over his crossbar.

The Royals made a good start to the match in South Wales, holding on to possession where they could and keeping the Bluebirds at bay in defence. 

Rain was swirling around the ground in Cardiff in slippery playing conditions for the players on the night, with neither goalkeeper tested too often come the midway point of the first half.

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Possession between the teams was balanced, but Swift showed tenacity to chase the ball down after losing it and played a neat one-two with Chris Gunter, with Swift given space to roam down the right flank.

He cut a cross back towards Méïté at the far post. It was an awkward striking height, however, and he couldn't get the desired contact on the ball.

Gunter showed quick invention soon afterwards, playing a low cross in early with Baldock chasing. Smithies was quick off his line to smother, though, as Reading searched for a second before half time.

There was anger from the Reading dugout as the 45th minute ticked over, with Méïté and Ejaria both brought down in midfield and foul appeals waved away - Baldock wiped out Vaulks seconds later and had his name taken by the referee.

Rafael was relatively untroubled throughout the first 45 minutes, and the Royals took a deserved advantage into the interval at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Half-time | Cardiff City 0-1 Reading

In need of an equaliser in the second half, the Bluebirds reacted with a double substitution at the break - with striker, Danny Ward and former Royal, Leandro Bacuna introduced in place of Junior Hoilett and Gavin Whyte.

The hosts started the half with renewed vigour, too. Neil Harris' side came out on the offensive as their quest for an equaliser intensified.

Vaulks continued to pepper the Reading area with long throws, and a vital intervention from McIntyre saw him block with his stomach after Vaulks took aim with a strike, when he received possession back from one of his throws.

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Up the other end, a piece of trickery from Baldock saw him combine with Gunter on the right and the Royals got into the Cardiff box. Gunter tried to cut back from the byline, but the Bluebirds were able to scamper back and clear behind - with the ball cleared from the resulting corner.

Cardiff continued to threaten up the other end, and a lofted Tomlin ball saw it clear the whole Reading defence. Ward was onside in space in the box, but fresh-aired the strike as he attempted the spectacular - the ball eventually trickling behind harmlessly for a goal kick.

Another former Royal had to receive midway through the second half, as Sean Morrison came off worse from a clash of heads with McIntyre in midfield.

Our Academy graduate will have watched Morrison from the stands as a Reading fan, but offered him no quarter on the pitch as he bravely won a header. Several minutes later and with some heavy strapping on show, Morisson was able to rejoin play.

From the restart, the hosts levelled. Vaulks launched another throw into the box. Michael Morrison's backward header ricocheted off the post, and Paterson was there to follow up with the rebound to level proceedings.

Reading tried to put themselves back in front straight away, when a Swift free kick found its way to Reading's Morrison at the far post. He controlled it into the air, then headed at goal - with Smithies able to make a comfortable save.

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Play quickly made its way back to the Reading end in an increasingly open match at Cardiff City Stadium. Vaulks tried to arrow a strike into the box, which was blocked into the path of substitute Ward - with Rafael instinctively getting down low to his right to make a stunning save in the Reading goal.

Charlie Adam was introduced in midfield for the final 10 minutes of normal time, with John Swift making way for the Scot. George Pușcaș was also brought into the fray for Baldock, with the match in the balance in Cardiff. 

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But following a Reading corner, Cardiff were able to take a quick free kick and Bacuna was set off on the right, with McIntyre watching him all the way and making a crucial deflection from his shot to take it wide.

Two subs combined for the Royals as they went close to a winner, with Adam and Omar Richards linking up on the edge of the Cardiff box. Adam lofted a cross to the far post, that landed on the roof of Smithies' net.

Five minutes were added, and the Royals looked the more likely scorers in added time - but they couldn't quite find a way through on the night. Reading will repeat their journey to Cardiff on Tuesday night as the teams face off in an Emirates FA Cup replay.

Full-time | Cardiff City 1-1 Reading

Cardiff City: Smithies, Bennett, S Morrison (c), Vaulks, Paterson, Pack, Nelson, Tomlin, Whyte (Bacuna HT), J Richards, Hoilett (Ward HT).
Subs not used: Etheridge, Flint, Glatzel, Murphy, Bamba.
Goals: Paterson (70)
Yellow: J Richards, Nelson, S Morrison

Reading: Rafael, Gunter, Obita (O Richards 86), Moore (c), M Morrison, McIntyre, Pelé, Swift (Adam 78), Ejaria, Méïté, Baldock (Pușcaș 83).
Subs not used: Walker, Rinomhota, McCleary, Blackett.
Goals: Méïté (8)
Yellow: Baldock, Obita

Attendance: 22,518 (1,098 away)
Referee: Mr S Hooper


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