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Barnsley 1-1 Reading: Play-off rivals share points in tense battle

Reading v Queens Park Rangers

Reading earned a point in the road to keep them in contention for the top-six against fellow play-off rivals Barnsley.

The Royals went ahead in the first-half as Ovie Ejaira showed excellent composure with his first touch and finish, but Alex Mowatt levelled from the penalty spot in the 61st minute after Andy Yiadom fouled Callum Styles.

The Royals had the chance to snatch the points in the 74th minute when Yakou Méïté teed up Lucas João, but with the goal practically unguarded, Reading’s top scorer inexplicably put the ball wide.

The draw puts Reading back into sixth place after they were temporarily displaced after Bournemouth beat Middlesbrough earlier in the day. However, the Cherries still have a game in hand to play on both Reading and Barnsley.

Veljko Paunović’s team were looking to end a run of three games without victory, while Barnsley came back from the international break looking to pick themselves up after Sheffield Wednesday ended their 13-game unbeaten streak.

Michael Morrison returned to the side to partner captain Liam Moore in the centre of defence, while Lewis Gibson started at left-back in favour of Omar Richards.

Barnsley started on the front foot and tried to impose their direct style on the game in the early stages when they launched a long throw into the box, with the clearing header dropping for Alex Mowatt on the volley but he mishit his shot harmlessly wide.

YMéïté burst away from the Barnsley defence when he sprinted more than half the length of the field on the right-wing but got the finish all wrong as he opened up his body to strike on his left foot but blasted his shot high and wide from a one-on-one with the keeper.

João showed his immense power as he cut in from the left-wing and shrugged off a few challenges before being dragged down to win a free-kick from 25 yards out.

Reading then worked a clever corner routine as Lewis Gibson flicked the ball to Joao but on a bobbling pitch, he couldn’t keep his effort down and fired high over the bar.

Moore was the unlikely man to strike the set-piece and won a corner when his effort was headed behind by the wall.

Barnsley were looking to affect Reading with their intense high press but picked up two yellow cards in quick succession as Cauley Woodrow fouled Morrison before Romal Palmer mistimed his tackle on former Barnsley man Andy Yiadom.

The Tykes had the better of the ball and created a rare chance in the 30th minute when Mowatt sent in a dangerous delivery from a free-kick to find Michal Helik but he couldn’t find the proper contact as the ball brushed off his shoulder to force an easy save from Rafael Cabral.

Despite having the better of the ball, the Royals made Barnsley pay for their lack of creativity with the ball and took the lead in the 34th minute.

Andy Rinomhota looked up to spot the run of Ovie Ejaria and picked him out with a superb over the top ball that was taken down in his stride immaculately by Ejaria who cushioned the ball before he slotted the ball past Bradley Collins into the bottom corner.

The hosts almost found an equaliser through a fortunate source as Callum Brittain miscued his cross which nearly caught out Rafael but grazed the frame of the goal.

Moore then threw his body in the way of Brittain’s volley inside the box to head behind, but Reading’s centre-back pair were broken up when Morrison was forced off with injury to be replaced by Tom Holmes.

Valérien Ismaël made a double change to his Barnsley side at half-time as Daryl Dike and Calrton Morris replaced Woodrow and Victor Adeboyejo.

Reading had an early sight of goal in the second-half when Michael Olise found the run of João who charged upfield and came inches away from slipping the ball in the box to Meite but slightly overhit his pass which evaded the Ivorian despite his best effort.

But Reading were pegged back after an hour as Yiadom was penalised for bringing down Callum Styles in the box as the referee spotted a pull in the box.

Mowatt stepped up to the spot and squeezed his spot-kick past Rafael as his unconvincing stirke found its way past the Royals keeper to level the game.

There were to huge chances in quick succession for Reading when Méïté stole the ball from a short back-pass to tee the ball up for Joao, but the Portuguese forward somehow missed the target with the goal gaping and with the keeper left stranded on the ground.

Barnsley then nearly took advantage in the 80th minute when Rafael failed to claim the ball from a free-kick and the loose ball was met by Mads Andersen but struck the post and was cleared away from danger by Moore on the line.

The Tykes scrambled the ball in the net following a corner, only for the goal to be ruled out for a foul on Rafael in the 87th minute.

But neither side were able to find a decisive goal to steal the points as Barnsley stay two points above the Royals in the Championship table.

Reading host Derby County in their next match at the Madejski Stadium on Monday (3pm kick-off) with seven games of the season left.

Barnsley: Collins, Sollbauer, Helik, Andersen, Brittain, Palmer, Mowatt, Styles, Frieser, Woodrow, Adeboyejo
Subs: Walton, Williams, Dike, Chaplin, Morris, Sibbick, Oduor, Halme, Moon

Reading: Rafael, Yiadom, Moore, Morrison, Gibson, Rinomhota, Laurent, Méïté, Olise, Ejaria, João
Subs: Esteves, Richards, Baldock, Southwood, Aluko, Holmes, Semedo, Tetek, Pușcaș

Goals: Ejaria 34′, Mowatt 61′ (pen)

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