Report: Reading 0 Albion 0Albion extended their unbeaten run to four games but were unlucky not to take all three points against the former Premier League outfit.
In a game which saw a red card apiece for strikers Pavel Pogrebnyak and Leo Ulloa, Oscar Garcia’s side dominated possession for long spells and carved out a number of good chances, only to be denied by a first-class display from Alex McCarthy.
Indeed, the Reading keeper made three superb saves and although the Seagulls would have been frustrated to leave the Madejski with just a point, they would have gained plenty of heart from the performance.
In a closely contested if low-key opening, Reading created the first chance when Adam Le Fondre latched onto a long clearance by Royston Drenthe, but Stephen Ward was covering to clear the danger.
Albion soon got into their stride and went close to breaking the deadlock in the 24th minute when a sweeping ball from Kazenga LuaLua found David Lopez on the right flank. He then cut the ball back for the onrushing Andrew Crofts, whose diving header flashed inches wide.
The Seagulls, looking for their first win at the Madejski in ten years, continued on the front foot and this time David found LuaLua, but the winger’s close-range effort was deflected wide.
The atmosphere then heated up, following two quick-fire dismissals by referee Graham Scott.
First, Pogrebnyak was shown his marching orders in the 31st minute following a blatant dive under pressure from Keith Andrews – his second booking of the game.
But Albion’s numerical advantage lasted just seven minutes as Ulloa was shown a straight red for a high foot on Alex Pearce.
Yet Albion continued to boss possession and again went close in first-half injury-time when Gordon Greer’s point-blank header from a David cross was beaten away by McCarthy.
Former Seagull Wayne Bridge came on at half-time for Reading, to hearty applause from the travelling fans, and it was the hosts who started the half the stronger.
Tomasz Kuszczak was twice called into action to keep Jem Karacan at bay before Albion’s first effort of the half arrived in the 55th minute. David found himself in an advanced position and having met LuaLua’s byline cross, he showed an exquisite touch to turn his marker, but then dragged his effort wide.
With no recognised striker on the pitch, Ashley Barnes replaced David on the hour mark – and he almost made an immediate impact, with an acrobatic volley from a Crofts’ cross that was saved by man-of-the-match McCarthy.
Inigo Calderon’s first-time effort from the edge of the box was also kept out by the Reading keeper as the Seagulls started to turn the screw.
Albion came closest to breaking the deadlock in the 77th minute when Andrews released Ward down the left. The Irishmen’s low cross was met at the near post by Barnes whose effort was somehow kept out by a combination of McCarthy and the post.
Garcia brought on Will Buckley for a final throw of the dice and the winger’s first effort was deflected into the path of Ward, who could only guide his shot into the side netting.
The point at least stemmed a six-game losing streak against the Royals and will give the side plenty of confidence going into Wednesday night’s game at QPR.