01 April 2023

Lucas Joao rescues point for Reading as Bristol City are held to draw

01 April 2023

Substitute Lucas Joao headed a 72nd-minute equaliser as Reading forced a 1-1 Sky Bet Championship draw at Bristol City.

The hosts went ahead in first-half stoppage time when Tommy Conway fired home left-footed from 10 yards out following George Tanner’s cross after a slick passing move.

But Reading fought back to equalise when Andy Carroll headed powerfully across goal for Joao to rise and nod over stranded goalkeeper Max O’Leary.

City welcomed back striker Conway after a hamstring problem, but were short of centre-backs. With Rob Atkinson, Kal Naismith and Tomas Kalas on the injured list, Zak Vyner and Cameron Pring lined up in the middle of a back four.

Winger Mark Sykes started a four-match suspension. Reading made four changes, with Amadou Mbengue, Nesta Gunness-Walker, Tyrese Fornah and Yakou Meite back in the starting line-up.

Conway volleyed wide and Anis Mehmetii had a shot blocked in an impressive City start that saw Reading’s Thomas Holmes booked for a foul after only four minutes.

The visitors were forced to defend desperately as Andreas Weimann and Nahki Wells saw efforts beaten away. Wells had the ball in the net in the 16th minute, but it was ruled offside.

Reading threatened briefly in the 18th minute when Meite failed to make telling contact with a volley, but it was all the home side as goalkeeper Joe Lumley saved bravely at the feet of Wells.

Two Reading corners in quick succession eased the pressure on their defence, but Lumley was brought into action again on the half-hour mark, gathering a fierce Wells drive from 25 yards.

Reading’s best first-half chance came after 44 minutes when Meite got in behind Vyner to break clear.

City goalkeeper O’Leary advanced from his line to force the striker wide and when he shot from a narrow angle, Vyner was back to head clear.

Conway’s goal deep into two minutes of stoppage time had home fans cheering at the half-time whistle.

Reading began the second half on the front foot, Carroll shooting narrowly wide from distance.

But Lumley was still the busier keeper, dealing comfortably with a Matty James shot from 25 yards.

Both sides made changes, Reading fans chanting “you don’t know what you’re doing” when Paul Ince replaced Guinness-Walker and Fornah with Joao and Femi Azeez.

Soon those jeers tuned to cheers as Joao netted within 11 minutes of being introduced.

Both sides went all out for the three points in the closing stages. City thought they had grabbed the winner when Weimann forced the ball home on 84 minutes, but for the second time they were denied by a linesman’s flag.

Substutute Andy King saw a stoppage-time header come back off the bar as City had to settle for a point.

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