Ten men Royals hold Palace to point
21st April 2012
Despite playing with ten men in the second half, Reading managed to earn a very credible 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace. Royals striker Jason Roberts was sent off on the stroke of half time for an elbow on a Palace player.
Reading manager Brian McDermott made just one change to the team that won promotion on Tuesday night against Nottingham Forest, with Hal Robson-Kanu returning from injury to replace Jimmy Kebe, who has been playing through the pain barrier in recent weeks.
It didn`t appear that Reading were showing any signs of a promotion hangover, as they started this game on the front foot. Ian Harte struck a free kick over the bar from 30 yards, before Hal Robson-Kanu`s header went just wide from McAnuff`s dangerous cross.
However, it was the away side that eventually took the lead with a superb flowing move on 14 minutes. Good play from the visitors allowed time for Moxey to send in a low inviting cross for Wilfred Zaha to get the slightest touch to send it beyond Federici.
The Royals response from this showed why they will be playing in the Premier League this season. Ian Harte`s free kick gave Speroni a few troubles before Reading eventually equalised. A corner wasn`t cleared well enough by the Palace defence, allowing Kaspars Gorkss to nod in the leveller.
Julian Speroni was starting to struggle with Harte`s dangerous set pieces, with the Argentian failing to read his corner but Pearce couldn`t react in time to get it goalwards. Palace then went within inches of taking the lead again, as Glen Murray`s effort from the edge of the box was tipped onto the bar superbly by Federici.
Reading striker Jason Roberts was causing the Palace defence a variety of problems with his pace and power but wouldn`t be anymore, as he was shown a red card by referee Andy D`Urso. The forward was adjudged to have caught Jonathan Parr with an elbow, to end his season prematurely.
It was a bright start to the second period by Dougie Freedman`s side, with Wilfred Zaha looking a constant threat on both sides for the Eagles. Midfielder Darren Ambrose then had a long range attempt at goal but Adam Federici dealt with it comfortably.
Adam Le Fondre was a half time substitute for the Royals and almost gave them the lead, as the prolific forward ran through and tried an audacious chip from 20 yards that just hit the top of the net. Leigertwood then had an effort of his own before Reading did take the lead.
Defender Ian Harte took a free kick quickly, setting Noel Hunt in down the right side and the Irishman sent in a superb cross for striker Adam Le Fondre to head home and give the Royals the lead, despite being down to ten men.
Reading captain Jobi McAnuff then went on a fantastic, dazzling run, getting into the box, beating five players before having his shot blocked. The Eagles started to turn up the pressure in the final twenty minutes, with tricky striker Zaha having a wild effort over the bar.
Palace did however equalise with 14 minutes to play in a similar situation to Reading`s first. A corner wasn`t cleared by the usually-reliable Reading backline and Eagles striker Glen Murray had time and space to convert a well-struck volley to give Palace a priceless equaliser.
It was harsh on a Reading side that enjoyed the majority of the possession in the second half but they were not to be undone by a resolute Palace team. McAnuff went on another surging run from the left but this time, his effort just went over the bar.
It was very much an end-to-end game in the closing minutes, with Gunnarsson`s pass through the middle finding Hunt but his cross was sniffed out by Palace`s sub goalkeeper Price. The Eagles continued to push but it was a hard-earned point from both sides in the end.
Reading: Federici, Cummings, Pearce, Gorkss, Harte, Robson-Kanu, Mullins, Leigertwood, McAnuff, Hunt, Roberts
Subs: McCarthy, Gunnarsson, Tabb, Church, Le Fondre
Crystal Palace: Speroni, Silva, McCarthy, McShane, Moxey, Zaha, Garvan, O'Keefe, Parr, Ambrose, Murray
Subs: Price, Parsons, Appiah, Scannell, Pedrosa