SLADE HAPPY TO POCKET A ROYAL POINT
CARDIFF CITY boss Russell Slade felt a draw was a fair result as his side missed the chance to close the gap on the play-offs.
Despite the Bluebirds being on top and hitting the post early on, it was Reading who took the lead courtesy of a stunning effort from Garath McCleary.
The match then switched the other way with the hosts dominating only to be pegged back by Lex Immers’ fourth goal in eight games.
But City were unable to go on and grab a winner and are now three points adrift of the final play-off spot, leaving Slade to rue a lack of consistency from his charges.
“We came here with a view that we wanted to win a football match and take all three points,” he said.
“I thought we started the game really well and then, without being able to put your finger right on it, the last 20 minutes they were the best side in the first period.
“They got the goal, so that might have a little something to do with it, and I thought we gave possession away far too easily, looked a little bit fragile at the back at times and they had one or two opportunities which we granted them.
“The second period I thought we started to grab hold of the game a little bit and then it was just beginning to fizzle on the 60minute mark, so I made a double substitution and we got immediate impact which is obviously what you want when you make those subs.
“It got us level and we had a really nice 10 minutes where I thought we controlled possession better than what we had done and managed the game better than what we had done.
“I thought then we might take the game but the last 10 minutes was very end-to-end.
“I thought in the end it was a fair result.”
The Bluebirds started well and were unlucky not to take the lead when Craig Noone’s diving header crashed back off the underside of the crossbar just past the 15-minute mark.
And that near miss proved costly with 36 minutes played as, fresh after replacing the injured Hal Robson-Kanu, McCleary produced a moment of magic that a scrappy encounter so desperately needed.
He controlled Yann Kermorgant’s flicked header on his chest before turning his man and lashing home a superb volley beyond Cardiff stopper Simon Moore.
The hosts went on to control the remainder of the first half but were pegged back shortly after the hour mark thanks to some brilliant play by inspired City substitute Sammy Ameobi.
Having come on just three minutes before, he drove towards goal and planted a firm drive against the inside of the post with Immers perfectly placed to head home the rebound from close-range for his fourth goal in eight games.
Reading had chances to snatch all three points in the closing stages as Matej Vydra went close and Simon Cox fluffed his lines at the death, but manager Brian McDermott opted to vent his frustration at an apparent handball in the build-up to Cardiff’s equaliser.
“We just can’t believe that the referee has missed the handball with the goal,” said the Royals chief.
“It is a nailed on handball and you’ve got to see that – it is a big, big decision in the game. If we get a penalty given against us the other night against Crystal Palace, then we probably got three on Saturday.
“I don’t want to bleet on about referees but you’ve got to give us that one.
“We felt we should have won the game. The margins are very, very small and you need the officials to get the big decisions right.”