READING 3 (Kebe 79, Harte 89, Robson-Kanu 90)
BARNSLEY gambled on winning the game against ten man Reading but left the back door open and ended up with nothing from their trip at the Madejski Stadium.
Barnsley manager Mark Robins made two changes to his side as he looked to get back to winning ways following last weekend's home draw against Derby County. Out went Andy Gray and Jacob Butterfield so there was a Madejski Stadium debut for new boy Chris Wood while Hugo Colace returned in the heart of midfield.
Reading manager Brian McDermott dumbfounded the press box with his team after naming two left backs - Ian Harte and Chris Armstrong - in the starting eleven. There was much furrowing of brows in the build up to kick off but Shane Long and Simon Church would definitely lead the Royals attack against the Reds. Reading where missing ex-Red Brian Howard through suspension, who cut a frustrated figure before the game.
After a scrappy opening, the home side should have really snatched the lead on six minutes when the Reds failed to deal with Jimmy Kebe's corner. The ball was swung back into the area by Jem Karacan for Matt Mills to attack but the defender put his free header well wide from ten yards out.
The Reds were their own worst enemy a minute later as the stood still and allowed Armstrong the chance to break into the area and cross but Stephen Foster was in the right place to make a telling block. Shane Long then tried to get a shot away on eight minutes but found Jason Shackell blocking his route to goal.
It took a while for the Reds to get a foothold in the game. The first real sight of goal for the visitors came on 15 minutes when Jim O'Brien crossed well and Wood managed to chest the ball down before firing acrobatically over the top.
At the other end Reading wasted a golden chance to break the deadlock seconds later as Church crossed for Long to nod goalward but his effort was woefully off target. Wood then saw half a chance go begging on 17 minutes as he found a yard of space in the area but scuffed wide of the mark.
Luke Steele was called into action on 20 minutes as he saved well from Church after the striker had ghosted onto the end of Jobi McAnuff's cross. It was scrappy from the Reds but their cause was not being helped by more dubious officiating in the opening exchanges. It could be one of those days from the officials.
Barnsley's afternoon took a turn for the worse on 23 minutes when Jay McEveley was forced out of the action with an ankle injury. He was replaced by fit again Luke Potter.
It was slowing getting better going forward from the Reds and neat interplay game Adam Hammill the chance to shoot on 25 minutes but his effort was easy for Adam Federici. Church then fired an over head kick high over the top a minutes later from Harte's corner as Bobby Hassell did well to put the striker under pressure.
After all Reading's pushing and probing they really should have been behind on 32 minutes as the Reds broke quickly with O'Brien freeing Hammill down the right wing. Hammill raced away from his marker and only had to square the ball to give Garry O'Connor a tap in but his pass was over hit and the chance went begging. It was a big chance as well.
Hammill brought another save from Federici on 34 minutes with a well-struck free kick from 30 yards which the Reading keeper managed to hold. Hammill was again running at Reading a minute later but was cynically checked by Zurab Khizanishvili, who earned a booking for his troubles. Hammill's free kick had Reading scrambling again as Colace reached the ball at the back post but Wood was then denied by Federici's brave stop.
Reading almost had a very fortunate leas on 36 minutes as Kebe raced away from Potter and crossed only for the ball to ricochet off Shackell and Foster and just wide of the post. It was a real heart in mouth moment for the Reds defence, who had not been overly stretched by Reading in the first half.
Mills went close to a goal on 37 minutes as he reacted quickest when Harte's corner dropped in the area but his instinctive effort flew high over the top. O'Connor hammered one high over the bar on 42 minutes as the Reds hit Reading on the break again before Long saw one deflected away off Foster at the other end.
Steele saved the Reds on 44 minutes as Reading finally got in behind Barnsley but the keeper did wonderfully well to race from his goal and deny Long. Hassell was able to scramble the loose ball away from goal.
There was another big worry for the Reds at the interval with O'Connor failing to return for the second half. The Birmingham City striker was replaced by Nathan Doyle.
Steele was quickly into the action on 47 minutes to deny Kebe before Hassell did well two minutes later to get a good block on Church's effort from Harte's corner. Church was in again on 50 minutes as he raced in behind Foster and onto Armstrong's pass but Shackell was quickly across to snuff out the danger.
Karacan picked up a yellow card on 52 minutes for a bad, high challenge on Potter before Armstrong picked up a booking five minutes later for handling as Hammill looked to break away. Hammill then saw a shot deflect wide seconds later as Federici made a complete mess of dealing with Hassell's free kick. Hammill was again in the thick of it on 59 minutes as he drilled a cross past Federici but Shackell could not turn it in at the back stick.
The game suddenly came to life and Church was in at the other end moments later but was denied by Steele's dive and Shackell's clearance.
Reading were reduced to ten men just after the hour mark as great play by Wood saw the striker barge past Khizanishvili only to be pulled down by the flapping Royals defender as he looked to race in on goal. It was a clear foul and earned the Reading defender his second yellow card.
Reading were at their worst after Khizanishvili's dismissal as every foul by a Barnsley player saw the referee hounded by Royals players putting pressure on for a card. It was not the nicest thing to see. Unsurprisingly the referee caved in and booked Diego Arismendi on 65 minutes after he had won a perfectly good defensive header against Kebe. Harte fired the free kick high, high over.
Hammill brought a save from Federici on 69 minutes before the winger almost earned a penalty two minutes later as he raced goalward only to be tripped by Alex Pearce right on the line. Arismendi went close from Hammill's free kick as he rose to nod the ball into the sidenetting. He should have done better.
Foster took out Karacan on the touch line to earn a booking on 74 minutes before Reading's big chance came seconds later as Long beat the offside trap to meet Hal Robson-Kanu's cross but planted a free header straight at Steele.
Reading grabbed the lead on 79 minutes and unfortunately it came from an error by Potter as the youngster did not react in time as Robson-Kanu's cross flew over and allowed Kebe the chance to nip in and power an unstoppable header past Steele.
Harte fired a deflected free kick just wide of the post on 84 minutes before the Barnsley charge was finally kick started by Hammill's brilliant curler that brought a fine save from Federici. Goran Lovre then wasted a great chance on 88 minutes as he cut in onto Hammill's short corner but hammered it wide.
Arismendi could have easily been shown a second yellow card on 89 minutes such was the performance of the officials when he tripped Kebe right on the edge of the box. Reading made the Reds pay the ultimate price when Harte curled a fine free kick around the wall and into the far corner giving Steele absolutely no chance.
Hammill and McAnuff picked up a yellow card apiece after squaring up on the byline in stoppage time. Reading again made Barnsley pay after Hammill's poor free kick had been charged down and Robson-Kanu was able to break away and run 50 yards before confidently beating Steele.
The game was long gone when Hammill took on the Reading defence in stoppage time but his wayward effort summed up a disappointing afternoon for the Reds as it flew well wide of the far post.
READING: Federici, Karacan, Mills (c), Long (Hunt 85), McAnuff, Kebe, Khizanishvili (Sent Off 61), Church (Robson-Kanu 73), Harte, Cummings, Armstrong (Pearce 68).
Subs: Williams, Antonio, Taylor, McCarthy.
BARNSLEY: Steele, Hassell, Foster, Shackell (c), McEveley (Potter 23), O'Brien, Arismendi, Colace (Lovre 73), Hammill, O'Connor (Doyle 45), Wood.
Subs: Preece, Gray, Neumann, Butterfield.
Pat Miller (Bedfordshire)
Ian Crouch (Kent) and Richard Martin (Weston-Super-Mare)
David Rock (Hertfordshire)
Attendance - 14,830
Away Attendance - 508
Match Report by Rob Knowles.
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