A late header from Ethan Pinnock earned Barnsley a point against Reading at Oakwell in a thrilling 1-1 draw.
The defender, who was being used as an emergency forward, rose highest to meet Lloyd Isgrove’s 90th minute cross and gave the Reds a two-game unbeaten home run heading into 2018.
Despite Chris Gunter’s early low drive, Gary Gardner, Mamadou Thiam and Harvey Barnes all fashioned great chances which they were unlucky not to convert in a frantic first half.
Tom Bradshaw twice went close after the restart with Thiam again hitting the target, but against the run of play, Yann Kermorgant headed in Tyler Blackett’s cross with 20 minutes remaining.
Jason McCarthy’s looping effort almost levelled things moments later with Gardner again going close late on, but it was Pinnock who stole the headlines with a brilliant leveller.
The visitors created the first chance just seven minutes in as Joey van den Bergh and Chris Gunter exchanged passes, with the latter bringing a good low save from Adam Davies at his near post.
The Reds fought their way back into the game despite this early scare, had Tom Bradshaw not slipped in the area, he would have met Adam Hammill’s lofted centre.
Gary Gardner’s chip just past the quarter hour mark drifted just over the crossbar with Vito Mannone beaten, while a fast break led by Tom Bradshaw was halted by Liam Moore as Mamadou Thiam shaped to shoot.
The striker raced onto Gardner’s through ball before chipping Mannone from a difficult angle, but the Italian’s blushes were spared as his effort went just wide.
Gardner was proving influential in the Reds midfield, swinging another inviting cross over that Harvey Barnes nodded wide, while Mo Barrow’s deflected low centre looped fortuitously over Davies’ crossbar on the half hour.
Hammill orchestrated a great move down the right which allowed Andy Yiadom to cross for Thiam, who volleyed just wide from a difficult angle six yards out.
Paul Heckingbottom’s side continued to turn the screw, Barnes again heading inches wide from Hammill’s delivery, but John Swift’s driven effort from just outside the box tested Davies in reply.
Garath McCleary took aim through a crowd of bodies just before the interval, forcing Davies into a save in the final action of the half.
HALF TIME: Barsley 0-0 Reading
Chris Gunter fashioned the first opening of the second half, letting fly from the edge of the area but curling his shot straight into the grateful arms of Davies.
Thiam again unleashed a rasping effort that stung Mannone’s palms, with a rising Barnes effort from a tight angle forcing another save out of the ‘keeper.
Bradshaw again raced onto an excellent Thiam through ball, fired across goal but Mannone once again clawed the effort away, before Bradshaw fired wide from just outside the penalty box.
As the Reds continued their attack, Thiam spun his way into space and let fly, with the ball breaking for Bradshaw, only for another great save to deny him on the hour.
Totally against the run of play, the Royals scampered forward down the left and Tyler Blackett was able to cross for Yann Kermorgant to head in the opener from six yards.
Heckingbottom made a triple change in the search for an equaliser, sending on Lloyd Isgrove, Ike Ugbo and Jason McCarthy in place of Harvey Barnes, Mamadou Thiam and Andy Yiadom.
McCarthy’s teasing cross to the far post almost dropped into the net just moments after his introduction but Reading once again rode their luck.
Sone Aluko was cautioned after scything down Isgrove in full flight on the counter, with Gardner scooping Liam Lindsay’s header from a corner over late on.
With time running out, Ethan Pinnock was sent forward as an emergency forward and the defender’s contribution proved crucial.
In the dying seconds, he leapt highest to connect with Isgrove’s cross and his bullet header proved too strong for Mannone, and earned a deserved point for the Reds.
FULL TIME: Barnsley 1-1 Reading
Attendance: 11,945 (424 away)
Barnsley: Davies (GK) (c), Yiadom (McCarthy, 69’ ), Lindsay, Pinnock, Fryers, Barnes (Isgrove, 69’ ), J. Williams, Gardner, Hammill, Bradshaw, Thiam (Ugbo, 70’ ).
Subs: Townsend (GK), Mallan, Potts, Bird.
Reading: Mannone, Gunter, Moore, McShane (c), Blackett, McCleary (Bodvarsson, 81’ ), van den Bergh (Evans, 62’ ), Swift (Aluko, 59’ ), Edwards, Barrow, Kermorgant.
Subs: Jaakkola (GK), Ilori, Clement, Richards.