Reading poor in Barnsley draw
Tuesday 1st October 2013
Reading`s winning streak came to an end to bottom-side Barnsley, who scored in the final ten minutes to earn a deserved draw at Oakwell.
Royals boss Nigel Adkins still had a few injury problems coming into this game and was forced to make one change from the victory over Birmingham, as Stephen Kelly came in at left back for the injured Wayne Bridge. Both sides were pushing for an early opener in this game, but clear cut chances were at a premium, with dangerous crosses from McCleary and Mellis causing trouble.
Alex McCarthy was the first stopper to be tested in the fixture, as David Perkins` fierce effort forced the former England under 21 keeper to make a good catch. The home side, who had the worse defensive record in the division, pushed the better for an opener. Jason Scotland came close on one occasion, but forced McCarthy into a fine stop at his left-hand post to deny the forward.
Adkins` side struggled to formulate any good periods of play in the first half and their only half chance was that of a Robson-Kanu header, as McCleary made a direct run down the left side and crossed for the Welshman, but his header went harmlessly wide. Norwich loanee David Fox was making his debut for the Tykes and once again tested the handling of McCarthy in the Reading goal.
Pavel Pogrebnyak almost had a sight of goal in the closing stages of the half, but his dangerous effort was blocked away by a Tykes defender for a corner. It was a rare attack for the Royals, with the home side having the lion`s share of possession in the first period and Paddy McCourt almost gave them the lead they deserved, but his low driven effort was blocked away.
Reading improved somewhat after the half time break and created the best opening of the game. Adam Le Fondre broke the Barnsley offside trap and evaded a sliding challenge and gave himself just Butland to beat, but the young keeper kept his effort out. Alfie had a second bite at the cherry with the rebound, but could only fire his effort way over the crossbar.
Despite this miss, the away side did gain the lead just minutes later. Welsh international Hal Robson-Kanu has come in for some criticism so far this season, but no one could doubt this sublime strike, as he fired the ball home from the edge of the area, with a perfectly-hit, arrowing effort. It wasn`t deserved, but the travelling Royals support wasn`t complaining!
It was a decent response from David Flitcroft`s side, as McCourt had another effort on goal, but was again thwarted by Alex McCarthy. With the hosts pushing forward for an equaliser, the game opened up, to the advantage of Reading. Chris Gunter went on a rampaging run down the right wing, before deciding to fire an effort at goal himself, which unfortunately went over the bar.
It was becoming an end-to-end game at Oakwell, as substitute Marcus Pedersen`s deflected effort forced McCarthy into a decent save. Another substitute Hope Akpan almost made a similar impact, as he fed Le Fondre on the edge of the Tykes` box, but the striker`s effort forced a superb save out of Jack Butland, who was signed on loan from Stoke four days ago.
The resulting corner led to the crossbar being rattled, as towering defender Sean Morrison attacked the ball at the far post, but to no avail. Reading could well have regretted this miss, as Barnsley struck an equaliser. The home side were pushing and after Reading failed to clear their lines properly, Chris O`Grady turned his man and fired into the bottom corner to put the game level.
Only one side looked as if they were going to win this game and that was bottom side Barnsley, who looked rejuvenated from their recent league performances. Former Royals midfielder Tomasz Cywka was introduced to the fray by David Flitcroft and forced McCarthy into a good save to his left. There was a debut for Billy Sharp, but had little time to make an impact for the Royals.
The game finished level and in some ways, Nigel Adkins` side would have been satisfied with this point, considering they were outplayed for the majority of the game. We should be picking up three points against sides in the bottom half of the table, let alone the bottom side, but credit must go to Barnsley for an inspired performance. However, it doesn`t get easier against inform Burnley this Saturday.
Barnsley - 4-4-2: Butland, Ramage, Kennedy, Cranie, Wiseman, Perkins, Fox, McCourt, Mellis, Scotland, O'Grady
Subs: Jennings, Hassell, O'Brien, Dawson, Cywka, Pedersen, Noble-Lazarus
Reading - 4-4-2: McCarthy, Gunter, Kelly, Morrison, Pearce, Guthrie, Baird, McCleary, Robson-Kanu, Le Fondre, Pogrebnyak
Subs: Federici, Cummings, Gorkss, Akpan, McAnuff, Obita, Sharp