Royals forced to scrap for point
Reading had to come from behind twice at Plymouth as they lost further ground in the promotion race.
Last Updated: 07/03/09 5:44pm
Reading had to come from behind twice to earn a 2-2 draw at Plymouth as they lost further ground in the Championship promotion race.
Paul Sturrock's revitalised Pilgrims looked to be making more progress as they twice went in front through Paul Gallagher (20) and a stunner from Jamie Mackie (56).
But the Royals, who saw Wolves and Birmingham both claim victories, twice levelled through Alex Pearce (22) and Jimmy Kebe (80).
Argyle boss Paul Sturrock made one change to the side which defeated Watford 2-1 on Tuesday, with Gary Sawyer coming in for Chris Barker at left-back.
Long was recalled to the Reading forward line after coming off the bench to score the winner at Hillsborough in midweek, with Noel Hunt dropping to the bench.
Kalifa Cisse also started in place of the injured Brynjar Gunnarsson, while Kebe replaced Jay Tabb on the wing.
The visitors created the first chance of the game after six minutes, but Michael Duberry headed well wide from Stephen Hunt's inswinging corner.
Plymouth full-back David Gray then saw his ambitious long-range effort fly over the crossbar before Gallagher gave the hosts the lead with his fifth goal in four games, volleying past Adam Federici from six yards after Ashley Barnes had nodded down a long free-kick into the box.
Pearce quickly brought the visitors back on level terms as he headed home after Marek Matejovsky played a one-two with Stephen Hunt from a corner and swung in a dangerous ball.
And three minutes later the defender saw another header cleared off the line by Gallagher as Reading came roaring back.
Argyle were forced into more last-ditch defending seven minutes before the break as Kebe burst down the right before cutting the ball back for Doyle, who saw his goalbound effort scrambled away by Gray.
The hosts were dealt a blow as Gallagher withdrew through injury at the interval, with Rory Fallon coming on in his place.
However, they refused to let the loss of their top scorer affect them as they took the lead for a second time through Mackie's sensational strike when he ran from the halfway line before unleashing a wonderful shot into the top-left corner from 25 yards.
Fallon tested Federici with a sthot from the edge of the area and the powerful striker then saw an effort ruled out for offside as Argyle pressed for a third goal.
However, Reading continued to pose a threat at the other end and Romain Larrieu had to make a superb save to deny Doyle before Cisse fired against the top of the crossbar from the resulting corner.
Long headed over the crossbar from another corner with 15 minutes remaining as Reading's attacking efforts grew increasingly desperate.
The Royals were finally rewarded with Kebe's 80th-minute as he latched onto a Shane Long header and slotted the ball home from close range, but they were unable to find a winner in the closing stages as Plymouth's defence held firm.