Reading FC Match Report: 2017/2018 Season - Championship
READING 2 SUNDERLAND 2
Reading: L Kelly (pen 20), Y Kermorgant (79)
Sunderland: P McNair (47), L Cattermole (66)
With so much at stake for both sides the tense and cautious first half of this match was to be expected. However when Liam Kelly put Reading ahead from the spot after twenty minutes the game quickly gathered momentum culminating in a chaotic finale in which both teams spurned excellent opportunities to snatch the crucial winning goal. The 2-2 draw may have lacked nothing in terms of drama but left Sunderland almost certainly relegated and Reading far from safe.
Sunderland attacked with greater purpose in the opening phase but Reading took the lead when Camp spilled a shot and made contact with Bodvarsson's legs as the Reading forward reached the loose ball before him. Kelly converted the penalty convincingly. He almost increased the lead minutes later minutes later with a rasping long range strike which was pushed away by Camp at full stretch. Desperate for the win Sunderland pushed Reading back and came close to an equaliser on more than one occasion. Edwards interception pushed the ball into the path of Fletcher. The resulting shot smacked against the post and fell to McManaman who must have thought he had scored having beaten Mannone only to see Moore miraculously head off the line. More chaotic defending in the Reading box ended with Mannone collecting a feeble final attempt as The Royals rode their luck. McManaman and McGeady were getting the better of Gunter and Richards on the flanks so Moore and Ilori had to be at their best to keep the visitors at bay.
Sunderland got the goal they deserved with an absolutely stunning goal from McNair just after half time. His shot from a good thirty yards left Mannone rooted to the spot. The body language of the Reading players did not look promising at that point. Heads went down. The goal seemed to sap their energy. Sunderland took full advantage and Reading paid the price (once again!) for Edwards' lack of discipline. A late lunge gave Sunderland a free kick on Reading's right side and a well flighted free kick was headed home by Cattermole. At that point Reading looked likely to wilt.
Finally grasping the gravity of the situation and freshened by the introduction of Kermorgant and Blackett Reading hit back. With a little over ten minutes remaining, Gunter's cross found Kermorgant lurking on the penalty spot. Kermorgant met it with a powerful and perfectly placed header inside the post. Both sets of fans were buzzing now and the remaining ten minutes and five minutes of stoppage time were frantic.
Sunderland could have clinched it through Fletcher (shot blocked) and Asoro had a shot saved by Mannone. McNair shot wide. Reading had their chances too. Kermorgant headed wide, missed a sitter and had a great effort well saved by Camp. Aluko had a shot blocked and had passes been timed better there would have been more. At the final whistle players from both sides collapsed with exhaustion and probably relief. Reading's season hangs in the balance!
This Championship game took place 72 days ago in the 2017/2018 season.