READING vs CARDIFF
Match Reports4th April
REPORT: READING 1-1 CARDIFF
Conor McAleny's late curling effort ensured the Bluebirds returned to South Wales with a share of the points from a difficult match at the Madejski Stadium.
It was a dream start for the Royals, taking the lead after just four minutes. Lightning quick full-back Jordan Obita was to trouble the Bluebirds defence all afternoon, and his strong cross from the left was diverted back across goal by Garath McCleary into the path of Russian international Pavel Pogrebnyak who slotted the ball under David Marshall.
The subsequent twenty minutes were scrappy, with neither side able to take control or carve out any further opportunities. Farnborough-born midfielder Joe Ralls picked up the Man of the Match award during the home win over Birmingham City last time out and he found Fabio in space down the left wing with an outstanding pass. The Brazilian defender struck towards goal only for Alex Pearce to block. City had a penalty shout on 32 minutes when Craig Noone was felled inside the area by Obita, but the referee waved play-on despite protests from the former Brighton & Hove Albion winger.
Second half battle
The hosts had a good chance to double their lead on 54 minutes. Bruno Ecuele Manga with a rare defensive mishap, giving the ball to McCleary on the edge of the Cardiff penalty box. The Jamaican international fired wide much to the relief of the Gabonese defender.
Slade's men had two attacking openings of their own in quick succession on 64 minutes. Conor McAleny's initial shot was blocked just outside the area but Craig Noone followed in with a neat curling effort that troubled Federici, forcing the Reading stalwart into a fine diving save.
The 1,750 Cardiff City fans in attendance rose to their feet on 65 minutes as Joe Mason entered the field of play, replacing Eoin Doyle. The Carling Cup hero appearing in a Bluebirds league game for the first time since April 2013 and the away faithful quickly showed their support for the returning striker.
David Marshall seemingly entered into a battle with Royals substitute and debutant Kwesi Appiah on 70 minutes. The City captain first denied Appiah as he attempted to round the No.1 following a short back pass from Lee Peltier before saving at point blank range three minutes later as Appiah burst through on goal.
McAleny's magical touch
Both teams pushed for the crucial second goal throughout the final fifteen minutes without truly testing their opposing goalkeepers. Marshall's earlier double save was soon to prove even more important as the clock struck the ninety minute mark. Aron Gunnarsson cutting in from the right side to find McAleny, the young Liverpudlian looking up and instantaneously curling the ball into the right of Federici's goal to level for Slade's side. It was a superb second Cardiff City goal from the young forward, well worthy of the point it earned for the travelling Bluebirds.
FINAL SCORE: READING 1-1 CARDIFF CITY (Pogrebnyak, 4; McAleny, 90)
Cardiff City: Marshall, Peltier (Malone, 83), Fabio, Ecuele Manga, Whittingham, Gunnarsson, Noone, Ralls (Kennedy, 65), McAleny, Doyle (Mason, 65). Subs Not Used: Moore, Gabbidon, Adeyemi, O'Keefe.
Reading: Federici, Gunter, Pearce, Hector, Obita, Ake, Akpan, McCleary (Norwood, 74), Robson-Kanu (Blackman, 85), Mackie (Appiah, 68), Pogrebnyak. Subs Not Used: Andersen, Knight, Karacan, Yakubu.