A late scrambled goal from Jimmy Kebe earned the Royals a well deserved point at Portsmouth in a game we really should have won. We dominated the second half and saw a Gylfi Sigurdsson free kick come back off the inside of the post.
Brian McDermott was forced into making a number of changes through injury as he was without Matt Mills, Jay Tabb and Shane Long. Brynjar Gunnarsson started at centre back with Brian Howard linking up with Jem Karacan in midfield, allowing Simon Church to lead the line. Jobi McAnuff was also fit so he started on the left and Noel Hunt was back on the bench.
Portsmouth started the better and David Nugent looked lively upfront with Matt Richie causing all the problems from the left hand side, putting over some decent crosses into the box. It didn`t take them long to take the lead, following a short corner from Nadir Ciftci, the winger crossed the ball into the box but it took a wicked deflection of Sigurdsson`s knee and past Federici. For the second league game running we were behind to a very fortunate goal for the opposition.
The Royals grew into the game though and Kebe was the outstanding man on the pitch, giving Carl Dickinson a real headache on his debut for Pompey. Time and time again he beat the left back with ease and put over some inviting crosses but no one able to get on the end of them. On the rare occasion someone did, McAnuff fluffed his effort.
At the other end Gunnarsson and Alex Pearce proved that they are nothing more than a couple of back up centre backs, and certainly not first choice like they are now. A long ball forward was completely missed by Gunnarsson, and if Nugent had realised how much time he had, we would have been two down – instead he shot first time and miles wide.
Howard made former Reading keeper Jamie Ashdown get his gloves dirty for the first time as the half came to a close, whilst Gunnarsson was caught out once more but a poor pass following that saved the Royals.
The second half was all Reading though and Sigurdsson almost scored another beautiful goal after Kebe was brought down on the edge of the area. He curled a delightful free kick goal wards and it looked to be heading into the back of the net but clipped the inside of the post and bounced back out.
We had so much possession in the second period and McDermott threw on Michail Antonio, who should have scored when he won a header at the far post from Kebe`s cross but it went over.
Noel Hunt was then introduced and his lively cameo was the catalyst for the equaliser. His movement and good ability in the air caused problems for the Portsmouth defence unlike anything Church had done all game. Then from a Sigurdsson corner mayhem ensued in the box and Kebe eventually bundled the ball over the line.
Howard almost scored a late winner but Ashdown saved and no one could follow up after he spilled the midfielders shot and we had to settle for a point, the very least we deserved from our second half display.
-Having Brian Howard back in the midfield gave us far more creativity going forward
-Noel Hunt was superb when he came on, lets hope it is not long before he is match fit
-Marcus Williams did very well at times, and when he lost the ball he always won it back
-Brynjar Gunnarsson looked a liability at times at centre half
-Simon Church did not hold the ball up well, a key component to a succesful loan striker
-Jobi McAnuff playing in the centre of midfield for about 15 minutes before Grzegorz Rasiak came on, what was that about?