Reading 2-2 Sunderland
Sunderland were forced to settle for a point the Madejski Stadium following an action-packed match-up against Reading on Saturday.
End to end throughout, the Royals led through a Liam Kelly penalty at the interval after Lee Camp brought down Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, and the Black Cats spurned multiple chances to level.
A thunderbolt from Paddy McNair dragged the Lads back into it within two minutes of the restart and Lee Cattermole’s header clinched a 2-1 lead, but Reading levelled with 11 minutes remaining.
Chris Coleman’s side remain six points adrift of safety.
Sunderland started on the front foot and forced a corner within the opening 60 seconds. Reading cleared but high-pressing from the Black Cats saw Cattermole retrieve possession, and relentless pressure on the Royals forced another corner three minutes later as Callum McManaman’s cross was blocked. Both sides then threatened on the counter, as Jon Dadi Budvarsson was thwarted by the pace and power of Lamine Kone, before Ashley Fletcher was denied after taking down Cattermole’s long ball.
The Lads’ best chance to test Vito Mannone in the opening 15 minutes fell to McManaman, as Fletcher picked up George Honeyman’s early ball before finding the midfielder on the edge of the box. A neat flick took the Reading defence out of the equation, but McManaman rushed his effort and dragged it wide. And with 20 minutes played, Reading led. Camp spilled an effort at the feet of Budvarsson before bringing the midfielder to ground, and Kelly dispatched an emphatic spot kick. The striker was denied a second soon after, as Camp made a diving save.
Sunderland went within inches of levelling on 23 minutes, as Fletcher curled an effort onto the base of the post before McManaman’s follow-up was cleared off the line. Reading continued to ride their luck and somehow came through another attack unscathed, as Mannone smothered the loose ball after denying Fletcher before Cattermole and McGeady failed to convert. And if that didn’t tell the story of Sunderland’s first-half luck, the next moment of note did. McManaman burst into the box and skipped between two defenders only to be sent to ground, and the referee waved play on.
The Lads needed a lift and within two minutes of the restart they got one, as McNair thumped a 25-yard screamer beyond a motionless Mannone. With momentum on their side, Coleman’s men piled forward as successive corners were scrambled away, but the next big chance fell to Cattermole as he timed his run to perfection only to head over the top. He didn’t make that mistake again! And with 66 minutes played, the captain glanced McGeady’s free-kick beyond Mannone to send Sunderland into a 2-1 lead.
Sunderland had chances to extend their advantage and the best of them fell to Fletcher, but a last-ditch block from Liam Moore denied the frontman from close range. Seconds later, Reading levelled. Substitute Yann Kermorgant peeled away from his marker and planted a header beyond Camp and into the corner. Youngster Josh Maja joined the attack with nine minutes remaining, with Joel Asoro introduced before the equaliser, as the Black Cats gambled. But it was the Royals who applied the late pressure, as Camp was forced into action twice before Barrow missed a sitter in added time.
Reading: Mannone, Gunter, Moore, Swift, Aluko, Edwards, Barrow, Ilori, Bodvarsson, Kelly (Kermorgant 71), Richards (Blackett 65).
Subs not used: Van Den Berg, Clement, Martin, Jaakkola, Rinomhota.
Sunderland: Camp, Oviedo (Clarke-Salter 50), McNair, Cattermole, Fletcher, McManaman (Asoro 75), McGeady, Love, Kone, Honeyman (Maja 82), Wilson.
Subs not used: LuaLua, Robson, Stryjek, Ejaria.