Forster helps Reading stay at summit

Ipswich Town 1 - Reading 1
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The Independent Football

Joe Royle was left disappointed after his Ipswich side failed to mark his 1,000th game in football management with a victory.

Joe Royle was left disappointed after his Ipswich side failed to mark his 1,000th game in football management with a victory. In a keenly contested encounter at Portman Road, Ipswich were unable to preserve their perfect home record after failing to convert a series of chances, which could have seen them return to the top of the table at the expense of the visitors.

Reading came into the match having upset a resurgent Watford side at Vicarage Road at the weekend, but before kick-off their form on the road was certainly not that of promotion candidates. It certainly showed within the first 10 minutes, as Ipswich's bustling forward Shefki Kuqi put the home side in front.

Kuqi, who preserved Ipswich's perfect home record on Saturday by scoring twice in the closing minutes to beat Burnley, capitalised on some weak defending as he bundled Reading's Ivar Ingimarsson off the ball on the edge of the penalty area before coolly slotting the ball home past goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann.

He should have scored his fourth goal in as many days after 24 minutes when he found the ball at his feet following another defensive lapse. This time, however, he put his effort into the crowd behind the goal.

Just moments later the wayward finish was to prove costly as Reading hauled themselves back into the game. Striker Dave Kitson evaded the offside trap, taking a fine through ball by Nicky Forster in his stride and firing past a hideously exposed Kelvin Davis.

Kuqi, however, was still proving to be a menace and three minutes before the interval he drew a magnificent save from Hahnemann as the goalkeeper.

Ipswich pressed to regain the advantage at the start of the second half. Headers from defenders Jason De Vos and Richard Naylor both flew agonisingly wide of their targets as Reading showed a generosity to last season's play-off semi-finalists.

With Darren Bent subdued, Kuqi proved to be the catalyst for much of Ipswich's forward momentum and he should have done better on 61 minutes when full-back Drissa Diallo picked him out with a fine through-ball.

Reading's substitute defender Ibrahima Sonko, on for the injured Adie Williams, almost put the ball into his own net on 75 minutes after scrambling away a cross from Bent as Steve Coppell's men continued to frustrate. Jim Magilton had a chance to win the game for Ipswich in injury-time but his deflected free-kick sailed over the bar.

Ipswich Town (4-4-2): Davis; Richards, De Vos, Diallo, Naylor; Magilton, Miller, Horlock, Westlake; Kuqi, Bent. Substitutes not used: Price (gk), Counago, Dinning, Bowditch, Sobers.

Reading (4-4-2): Hahnemann; Shorey, Ingimarsson, Williams (Sonko, 34), Murty; Brooker (Convey, 80), Harper, Hughes, Sidwell; Forster, Kitson. Substitutes not used: Young (gk), Goater, Newman.

Referee: M Jones (Cheshire).