Reading’s playoff hopes were dealt a considerable blow at the Madesjski Stadium on Saturday, with struggling Yeovil Town holding them to a 1-1 draw despite going down to eight-men in only the third-ever competitive meeting between the two sides.
Shane Duffy gave the visitors a first-half lead, while Gary Johnson's men put through their own net and also saw Byron Webster, Joe Ralls and Kieffer More all sent off in a frantic second half by referee Scott Mathieson.
The hosts started the afternoon brightly enough, with Garath McCleary and Hal Robson-Kanu – in for injured skipper Jobi McAnuff – both looking particularly threatening down the flanks.
The latter beat his marker and fired a delicious ball across the face of the six-yard box, but Adam Le Fondre was prevented from tapping home after a good intervention from Duffy.
Despite that early intent, however, Reading were quickly stunned as Yeovil scored with their very first sight of goal in the 20th minute.
Hope Akpan, who took advantage of Danny Guthrie’s recent injury trouble to cement a starting berth alongside Danny Williams, gave away a needless free-kick in midfield.
Luke Ayling floated the ball into the penalty area and Duffy nodded into an empty net after Royals goalkeeper Alex McCarthy – usually so reliable in such situations – came out to punch clear but was unable to get anywhere near his intended target.
Yeovil settled nicely after going ahead, with Tom Lawrence exploiting the acres of space behind Reading’s midfield and unleashing a vicious effort that was diverted wide by McCarthy.
Pavel Pogrebnyak thought he had grabbed the equaliser shortly after the half-hour mark, but his diving header – dispatched from a searching Jordan Obita cross – was ruled out for offside.
Aside from that brief flurry, Reading were woefully flat for the remainder of the first half and looked utterly clueless in possession.
The midfield duo of Akpan and Williams struggled to gain a foothold in the game while the likes of Kaspars Gorkss and Obita were seemingly content simply to hoof the ball forward with little idea or purpose – much to the obvious displeasure of an irritated home crowd.
Nigel Adkins cannot have been content with what he saw in the opening 45 and responded by introducing Guthrie at the expense of Akpan at the break.
His side were immediately on the front foot after the whistle, with Reading forcing six corners in succession while Yeovil abjectly failed to clear their lines sufficiently.
Obita once again set-up the towering figure of Pogrebnyak with a clever dinked cross, but the powerful Russian could only head straight into the arms of Marek Stech.
Reading continued to force corner after corner, with a strong header from Gorkss being flicked agonisingly wide by Le Fondre.
Adkins’ introduction of former Real Madrid winger Royston Drenthe after an hour set the scene for a thoroughly bizarre and eventful period midway through the second half.
After being initially sent through by a Guthrie pass, the Dutchman was brought down by centre-back Byron Webster who was duly shown a red card for his troubles.
And while Le Fondre saw his penalty saved well by Stech, Yeovil’s defence – in true keystone cops fashion, it must be said – somehow transpired to fumble it over the line for an embarrassing sliced own goal by Lawrence.
Things then went from bad to worse for Yeovil, who were suddenly reduced to nine men after Ralls was dismissed for a reckless, two-footed lunge on McCleary.
Now boosted by their considerable numerical advantage, Reading began to lay siege to Stech’s goal. Guthrie saw a low show shot kept out by the impressive Stech, who then got down to divert another Pogrebnyak header round the post.
The Czech ‘stopper deserves immense credit, as he continually kept Reading at bay whilst his outfield teammates utterly lost all sense of control and composure.
Yeovil, who had taken leave of all rational thought or sense by this stage, were then down to eight men - striker Moore the next to go after a petulant trip that earned him a deserved second yellow card.
In fact, the Glovers can count themselves extremely fortunate not to be left with just seven players. Lawrence twice avoiding a similar fate in what can only be described as an act of leniency from Mr Mathieson.
However, despite dominating possession in the closing stages, Reading – who went close with a driven Drenthe shot that was parried by Stech – just could not find a winner and Yeovil held on for an unlikely point that moved them off the foot of the Championship table on an incredible afternoon.
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