Match Report: Reading make up in spirit for a shortage of quality against Fulham

Reading 3 Fulham 3

Madejski Stadium

Reading have spirit. Scoring an 85th minute equaliser is sufficient proof of that. Scoring another equaliser in the 90th minute, even more so. What they do not have, though, is enough control or quality. Leading Fulham 1‑0 at home they allowed them to stroll back into the game. So, even after their late rally, Brian McDermott's team still lack a Premier League win.

It was certainly impressive that Reading rescued a point yesterday. There were four goals in the last 13 minutes of a match that had begun at walking pace, and three in the final five. Such manic spells tend to resolve themselves in favour of the team with more confidence and experience. But Reading twice managed to bend the game back their way.

With five minutes left, and Reading 2-1 down, Adam Le Fondre burst down the left, and hooked a cross in. It fell to his fellow substitute Garath McCleary who stabbed the ball past Mark Schwarzer. Two minutes later, Dimitar Berbatov put Fulham back in front. Two minutes after that, Nicky Shorey's free-kick dropped, eventually, to Hal Robson-Kanu, who bundled in the game's sixth and final goal.

"Anyone who has been here knows they are going to keep going," McDermott said of his players. "We know for a fact we are never going to give in, we are going to keep going."

It is worth asking, though, how Reading allowed it to come to that. This is precisely the sort of game that they should have won, against one of the League's weakest travelling sides. They even went ahead, through Mikele Leigertwood after 25 minutes. But their midfield lacked the cool authority that is needed in the top flight.

"People will talk about 'the win'," McDermott said. "What is important is to play the game. Forget 'the win', that will come."

McDermott had decided that he would go with a fairly rudimentary line-up yesterday. He paired his two target men, Pavel Pogrebnyak and Jason Roberts, up front together for the first time.

The approach worked at first. After 25 minutes Roberts stole the ball from Chris Baird, passed to Jobi McAnuff who found Leigertwood 20 yards out. The midfielder drove the ball perfectly into the top corner. From there, though, Reading started to retreat, until their final late rally.

Fulham must feel a different sort of frustration. They began the game prettily enough, passing better than their hosts, but without much edge. "We started off brightly, had possession, but no purpose to our game," Martin Jol said. "We didn't get the ball forward enough for my liking."

Hugo Rodallega started up front, with Dimitar Berbatov behind him. The Colombian international missed two headed chances in the first half and Fulham were lacking something. Jol replaced Rodallega, then, with Bryan Ruiz after 58 minutes. Berbatov, who needed an injection to play the second half, moved up front and Ruiz took his place in the hole.

Just three minutes after coming on, Ruiz scored. He received the ball in space, exchanged passes with Damien Duff and, from the edge of the box, curled it with his left foot into the far top corner.

Ruiz set up Berbatov, who shot into the side netting, and nearly John Arne Riise. Eventually Ruiz got the assist to go with his goal, curling a corner on to Baird's forehead. "He is the one who can create chances," Jol said of his brilliant Costa Rican, "play the ball forward, killer passes, great vision."

If Jol thought Fulham had won the game at 2-1, he certainly must have done at 3-2.

Straight after McCleary's goal, Berbatov received a pass on the left side of the box, shuffled backwards and clipped it into the far corner.

But Reading's spirit, for this game at least, matched Fulham's quality. "It was like the Harlem Globetrotters when they brought Ruiz on," McDermott said. "We all know Berbatov is an absolute class act. They have Brede Hangeland at the back, Mahamadou Diarra in the middle and Damien Duff – they have a number of players of real quality. We have to be the best group in the League."

Reading (4-4-2): McCarthy; Cummings, Mariappa, Gorkss, Shorey; Kebe (Robson-Kanu, 77), Leigertwood, Tabb (McCleary, 69), McAnuff; Pogrebnyak (Le Fondre, 80), Roberts.

Fulham (4-2-3-1): Schwarzer, Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Riise; Diarra, Baird (Sidwell, 80); Duff (Dejagah, 67), Berbatov, Richardson; Rodallega (Ruiz, 58).

Referee: Mike Jones.

Man of the match: Ruiz (Fulham)

Match rating: 8/10

Sport
Mourinho lost his temper as well as the match
sportLiverpool handed title boost as Sunderland smash manager’s 77-game home league run
Voices
Sweet tweet: Victoria Beckham’s selfie, taken on her 40th birthday on Thursday
voices... and her career-long attack on the absurd criteria by which we define our 'betters', by Ellen E Jones
Arts & Entertainment
Billie Jean King, who won the women’s Wimbledon title in 1967, when the first colour pictures were broadcast
tv
News
Snow has no plans to step back or reduce his workload
mediaIt's 25 years since Jon Snow first presented Channel 4 News, and his drive shows no sign of diminishing
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Life & Style
food + drinkWhat’s not to like?
Voices
Clock off: France has had a 35‑hour working week since 1999
voicesThere's no truth to a law banning work emails after 6pm, but that didn’t stop media hysteria
Arts & Entertainment
Maisie Williams of Game of Thrones now
tvMajor roles that grow with their child actors are helping them to steal the show on TV
Life & Style
Lana Del Rey, Alexa Chung and Cara Delevingne each carry their signature bag
fashionMulberry's decision to go for the super-rich backfired dramatically
Arts & Entertainment
Kingdom Tower
architecture
Life & Style
Sampling wine in Turin
food + drink...and abstaining may be worse than drinking too much, says scientist
Arts & Entertainment
Game of Thrones writer George R.R. Martin has been working on the novels since the mid-Nineties
books
News
Easter a dangerous time for dogs
these are the new ones. Old ones are below them... news
News
Brand said he
people
Voices
Actor Zac Efron
voicesTopless men? It's as bad as Page 3, says Howard Jacobson
Sport
Roger Federer celebrates his victory over Novak Djokovic in the Monte Carlo Masters
sport
Arts & Entertainment
The monster rears its head as it roars into the sky
film
Voices
For the Love of God (2007) The diamond-encrusted skull that divided the art world failed to sell for
its $100m asking price. It was eventually bought by a consortium
which included the artist himself.
voicesYou can shove it, Mr Webb – I'll be having fun until the day I die, says Janet Street-Porter
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit