ROYALS RESOLVE RAISED BY A RED Ten men hold out as Tykes rue start
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.
OPENER: Garath McCleary puts Reading ahead before seeing red
STAR MAN ALI AL-HABSI Reading