ROY­ALS RE­SOLVE RAISED BY A RED Ten men hold out as Tykes rue start

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Stephen Thirkill

BARNS­LEY bashed and bat­tered but they could not break ten-man Read­ing’s door down – and boss Paul Heck­ing­bot­tom be­lieves the game was lost in the half hour the Roy­als had a full com­ple­ment on the pitch.

First-half goals from Garath McCleary and John Swift was enough for the Berk­shire side to end Barns­ley’s 100 per cent home start de­spite what was to come.

At 2-0 up, McCleary was given a straight red fol­low­ing a con­fronta­tion with Conor Houri­hane – who he shoved to the ground – in the 34th minute.

The Reds gave them­selves hope af­ter Adam Arm­strong pulled a goal back with eight min­utes to go.

But they were un­able to find a way past the in­spired Ali Al Habsi in the dy­ing stages.

“It was dis­ap­point­ing to lose. We suf­fered from not get­ting the first goal,” Heck­ing­bot­tom said. “Read­ing played well and when you go two down in this league it is tough. We pressed and pressed but they de­fended well.

“We have enough bod­ies be­hind the ball to stop the sec­ond goal. I just wish we had got the first goal.

“The team kept go­ing and I’m pleased the fans stuck with the play­ers to the death.

“We have to learn from the de­feat and bounce back. We have got good mo­men­tum and must keep it go­ing.”

Read­ing boss Jaap Stam had no com­plaints with the send­ing off but nev­er­the­less left York­shire a happy man.

“We were in con­trol dur­ing the first half and es­pe­cially af­ter the sec­ond goal but the red card changed things,” he said.

“It was a bad red card but he knows that. He should not have re­acted in that way and he has said sorry. He had one of his best games un­til then.

“Barns­ley are a very good team and we were de­fend­ing deep in the clos­ing stages, it was a very ner­vous fi­nal eight min­utes. Some of the play­ers will never have run so far be­fore, they de­serve a lot of credit for their ef­forts.”

Ryan Kent cracked a lon­grange ef­fort against the bar in the sec­ond minute as Read­ing came out all guns blaz­ing.

And they got their re­ward on nine min­utes when McCleary put the Roy­als ahead from the spot from the re­bound af­ter Adam Davies had ini­tially saved. Read­ing won the penalty af­ter Davies tripped Swift fol­low­ing a su­perb counter-at­tack.

Barns­ley’s Arm­strong and Adam Ham­mill both went close mid­way through the half as the Reds looked to bounce back.

But Swift dou­bled the vis­i­tors’ lead with a su­perb curl­ing ef­fort from out­side the box on 29 min­utes.

Barns­ley were given hope five min­utes later when McCleary was shown red af­ter a mass con­fronta­tion.

Josh Scowen had a header well saved by Al Habsi on the stroke of half-time, be­fore he headed over from close range shortly af­ter the restart.

Sam Win­nall was un­able to get the ball out from un­der his feet as he seemed set to fire home on 55 min­utes.

Al Habsi pro­duced another su­perb save to deny Arm­strong and deny Barns­ley a route back into the game on 71 min­utes.

Barns­ley set up a grand­stand fin­ish when Arm­strong hit a su­perb vol­ley past Al Habsi on 82 min­utes. And the home side came close to res­cu­ing a point deep into stop­page time when Al Habsi some­how de­nied Scowen with a fin­ger­tip save.

PIC­TURES: Me­dia Image

OPENER: Garath McCleary puts Read­ing ahead be­fore see­ing red


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