Date: 28th October 2012 at 3:19pm
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Reading battled twice from behind to gain a point against Martin Jol’s Fulham, in what was a fascinating second half of football at the Madejski Stadium.

The first real chance of the game came to the former Fulham striker Pavel Pogrebnyak, as he rose to a Nicky Shorey cross, but the Russian put his free header wide of Mark Schwarzer’s post. Reading were firmly in control of the opening stages, with a 20-yard effort from Dimitar Berbatov the only effort worth of noting from the visitors.

Martin Jol’s side did improve as the half progressed and really should have gone ahead, when Damien Duff’s cross was met by Hugo Rodallega, whose poor attempt at a header was easily dealt with by McCarthy. They would soon regret missing this chance as the home side took the advantage 26 minutes into the game. Jobi McAnuff drove down the left flank and squared for Mikele Leigertwood who met his effort superbly from the edge of the box to give his side a deserved lead.

Reading have been known to struggle to keep a lead in the Premier League and pushed for the second goal to hopefully secure all three points. Jimmy Kebe and Shaun Cummings linked up well down the right hand side, but his cross could only meet the head of 5’5 Jay Tabb, who headed harmlessly wide. Rodallega had another half chance in the opposing box, but again the former Wigan striker’s header was not good enough to test McCarthy in the Reading goal.

The visitors continued to press for an equaliser in the build-up to half time, but neither efforts from Damien Duff or Chris Baird could bring them level, as the Royals went in one up at the break. Mark Schwarzer was quickly brought into action in the second period, having to be about his wits to keep out a weak effort from Pogrebnyak. However, despite Reading dominance, Fulham found themselves an equaliser of superb quality.

Substitute Bryan Ruiz had only been on the pitch for a matter of minutes, before striking a sublime left-footed effort on the edge of the box, which gave McCarthy absolutely no chance just under his crossbar. The pendulum was now firmly in favour of Fulham’s, who were going close to turning the game on its head after Dimitar Berbatov’s effort luckily hit the side netting.

Malian winger Jimmy Kebe had been a disappointment for the majority of the game, but finally came to life in the 70th minute as he drove inside of Fulham’s backline, but his left-footed effort was relatively comfortable for Schwarzer. The away side did however take the lead in the 76th minute, with Chris Baird beating the defender at the near post from a corner to nod Martin Jol’s side into the lead at the Madejski Stadium.

Reading were not be undone though, as they pushed and responded with a goal of their own seven minutes later. Royals substitute Hal Robson-Kanu delivered a sharp, low cross into the box which was touched home from 10 yards by fellow substitute Garath McCleary. Just as Reading thought they could go onto the win the game, Fulham found themselves in front once again at the Madejski.

Former Royals Steve Sidwell slipped in Dimitar Berbatov on the right in the box and the Bulgarian caressed the ball into the corner, to stun the Royals faithful. The game was to take another dramatic turn, as the resilient Royals came back once again. A free kick out on the left was swung in by Shorey and Gorkss knocked it down into the path of Hal Robson-Kanu to poach home to send Reading fans into equilibrium.

Brian McDermott’s side would then go within inches of stealing all three points, as a similar free kick from Shorey was attacked at the far post from McAnuff, but Schwarzer smothered it away for a corner. The resulting kick was another scramble in the penalty area, with Scwarzer denying Roberts from bundling home. It was a share of the points at the Madejski, with Reading possibly going away as the happier party, but the first win still looms for the Berkshire side.

Reading: McCarthy, Cummings, Mariappa, Gorkss, Shorey, Kebe, Tabb, Leigertwood, McAnuff, Roberts, Pogrebnyak
Subs: Federici, Pearce, Gunter, McCleary, Robson-Kanu, Hunt, Le Fondre

Fulham: Schwarzer, Reither, Hangeland, Hughes, Riise, Duff, Diarra, Baird, Richardson, Berbatov, Rodallega
Subs: Stockdale, Senderos, Sidwell, Karagounis, Petric, Ruiz, Dejagah