Reading scored a 95th-minute equaliser to send Nottingham Forest home from The Madejski Stadium frustrated this afternoon.Greg Halford’s third goal in as many games had given Forest a first-half lead and, despite creating a number of chances and dominating the match, Stephen Kelly pegged them back with a header in the final minute of second-half injury time.
Billy Davies made two changes to the side which beat Leeds on Sunday. A knock to Djamal Abdoun meant he missed the trip to Berkshire, opening the door for Jamie Paterson. Chelsea loanee Nathaniel Chalobah also replaced Radoslaw Majewski, who dropped to the bench.
Reading handed starts to former Reds Chris Gunter, Garath McCleary and Billy Sharp.
The match was played out in wet and windy conditions and the 19,873-strong crowd had to wait until the 24th minute for the match’s first meaningful shot. Paterson claimed it, cutting onto his left before seeing his shot deflect off a defender and out for a corner. The former Walsall man curled straight at Royals keeper Alex McCarthy from range two minutes later.
It had been an extremely quiet opening to the match, and it wasn’t until the 35th minute that Reading had their first shot. Nick Blackman showed some quick stepovers to beat Eric Lichaj before shooting wide from a tight angle.
And a minute later The Reds had the lead. Andy Reid’s free-kick from deep found Halford, who climbed highest and managed to generate enough power to flick his header over McCarthy and into the net.
The rest of the half passed without a further opportunity for either side, who both emerged from the break unchanged.
Forest were the better side and started the second half brightly. After some patient passing in Reading territory on 49 minutes, Reid crossed for Halford who again had to generate his own power. McCarthy was able to get down to his right to make the save.
Five minutes later Mackie crossed to the back post, where Paterson met the ball with a first-time effort. Kelly blocked well on the line.
Reading were struggling to create anything of note and were again put under pressure when Paterson did brilliantly to flick Eric Lichaj into space. The American, again occupying the left-back slot, made strides into Reading’s area but Kelly was there again, this time diverting Lichaj’s effort over the bar.
The Reds then made a double change, Matt Derbyshire and Simon Cox replacing Halford and Mackie on 68 minutes.
And Derbyshire, who had scored the memorable winner against Leeds days earlier, had a golden opportunity to double the visitors’ advantage shortly after his arrival.
Karl Darlow had been starved of activity up until the 70th minute when he came off his line to punch a Royals cross clear. He connected so well that the ball sailed over Danny Guthrie, allowing Paterson to charge into Reading’s half. He played an excellent through ball for Derbyshire who opted to take his effort first time, miscuing harmlessly wide.
And the striker had another golden opportunity five minutes later when Lansbury slipped the ball to him in Reading’s box. Derbyshire took his time before rolling a left-footed effort across goal and agonisingly wide of the post.
Forest should have been out of sight, but Darlow was forced into a good save from Blackman before Paterson had to clear Alex Pearce’s header off the line from the resultant corner.
Jonathan Greening was sent on for his first appearance of the season on 81 minutes, replacing Chalobah, and one of his fellow midfielders tested McCarthy again as play resumed.
Lansbury ran towards goal and, staying on his right, cut across his effort, sending the ball skimming along the greasy turf and into McCarthy’s grasp.
With six minutes of normal time remaining Forest had their most nervy moment of the match. Guthrie sent a stinging 25-yard drive towards goal and Darlow did brilliantly to push it away with a strong right hand.
Sadly there was nothing the keeper could do in the fifth minute of added time. Royston Drenthe, who had earlier replaced McCleary, whipped in a free-kick from the left and Kelly nodded it into the bottom corner to earn the hosts an undeserved point.
Forest: Darlow, Jara, Lascelles, Hobbs, Lichaj, Chalobah (Greening 81'), Lansbury, Reid (c), Paterson, Mackie (Derbyshire 68'), Halford (Cox 68')
Subs not used: De Vries, Harding, Majewski, Osborn
Scorer: Halford 36'
Bookings: Hobbs 65', Jara 88', Cox 89'
Reading: McCarthy, Kelly, Cummings (Taylor 82'), Gunter, Pearce, Guthrie (c), Williams, McCleary (Drenthe 59'), Blackman, Pogrebnyak, Sharp (Le Fondre 59')
Subs not used: Federici, Keown, Sweeney, Akpan
Bookings: Williams 39', Guthrie 53', Le Fondre 63', Pogrebnyak 90'
Scorer: Kelly 90'
Referee: Michael Oliver
Attendance: 19,873 (Away: 1,867)