Reds 1 (O’Grady 79)
Reading 1 (Robson-Kanu 51)
How Barnsley came away from this one with just the one point is anyone’s guess, as the Reds dominated a Reading side littered with Premier League experience from front to back. It took a fairly late Chris O’Grady to earn a point for Barnsley, but it should have been more.
The Reds started with more of the ball in the opening exchanges and David Perkins saw his 25-yard strike deflect towards goal but McCarthy did well to get across to save well to his left on seven minutes.
Barnsley were well on top and weren’t allowing Reading out of their half as Scotland went close this time. McCarthy redeemed himself by making a smart save from Scotland’s edge-of-the-box strike after the Reading ‘keeper had given the ball away to O’Grady on 14 minutes.
Mellis made a break for it down the middle on 27 minutes before slotting the ball into Scotland’s path. He did well to control but fired wide from the edge of the area as he searched for his third goal in as many games.
The football from Barnsley really was flowing. Slick, passing, interchange play between O’Grady, Scotland, Kennedy and Fox saw the latter have a pop on 37 minutes but it was too central to trouble McCarthy.
Towards the end of the half, McCourt drove forward and fired in a low shot that deflected wide for a corner as Barnsley continued to look positive going forward.
The Reds were finally breached on 49 minutes as Adam Le Fondre raced in behind the defence but after he slipped past Ramage he couldn’t beat the chest of Butland and then cracked the rebound well over the bar.
After 51 minutes, and quite remarkably, Reading took the lead through Hal Robson-Kanu. The Welsh international picked up the ball and took aim from 25 yards, drilling into the bottom corner.
The response from Barnsley was immediate but McCarthy kept out McCourt’s drive and the rebound was stolen from under the nose of Jason Scotland.
On 66 minutes Marcus Pedersen made his return from injury as he replaced Jason Scotland in attack.
Pedersen showed great quality to take the ball down and turn before firing low at McCarthy, and just as the ball zipped off the turf the Royals’ ‘keeper did well to gather low to his right on 70 minutes.
Jack Butland had to pull a save right out of the top bag as Adam Le Fondre arrowed a brilliant drive towards the top corner on 74 minutes, and from the resulting corner Ramage managed to block the ball onto the bar.
Tomasz Cywka came on for the Reds with 14 minutes left to play, replacing Jacob Mellis.
Finally the Reds hauled themselves back into the match through Chris O’Grady on 79 minutes with a typical turn and lovely finish. Wiseman’s cross eventually found the big man who did the rest from 15 yards – firing low into McCarthy’s bottom, left-hand corner.
David Fox was replaced by Stephen Dawson for Barnsley’s third and final substitution on 81 minutes.
Momentum was with the Reds and the stadium right behind Flitcroft’s men as they searched for the winner.
A minimum of five minutes of stoppage time was added and both teams were going to the winner. There was almost a magical winner as Tomasz Cywka picked up the ball 25 yards out and hammered a wicked shot at goal but McCarthy did well to beat away as the ball swerved.
Subs: Federici, Gorkss, Cummings, Obita.
Reading: McCarthy, Gunter, Kelly, Pearce, Baird, Pogrebnyak, Le Fondre (Sharp 87), McLeary (McAnuff 67), Morrison (c), Robson-Kanu, Guthrie (Akpan 71).
Subs: Hassell, O'Brien, Jennings, Noble-Lazarus.
Reds: Butland, Wiseman, Kennedy, Cranie (c), Scotland (Pedersen 66), O'Grady, Perkins, Fox (Dawson 81), McCourt, Ramage, Mellis (Cywka 76).
Attendance: 9084 (Away 327)
Ref: Chris Sarginson
Man of the match sponsored by Napoleon’s: Chris O’Grady