Aston Villa 1-1 Reading: Sam Baldock penalty earns late point for Royals
Sam Baldock scores late penalty to earn point for Reading at Aston Villa
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 25/08/18 7:18pm
Sam Baldock converted a dramatic stoppage-time penalty to salvage a 1-1 Championship draw for Reading at Aston Villa.
The Royals had been over-run for long periods and it appeared as if they were heading for their 11th defeat in 12 visits to Villa Park.
Ahmed Elmohamady had given Villa a 51st-minute lead only for Reading to claw their way back into the game at the death.
Skipper James Chester brought down Josh Sims and Baldock stepped up to convert from the spot - his first goal since joining in the summer from Brighton.
Before the game, Villa manager Steve Bruce was in an animated conversation on the pitch with the club's new owners, Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris.
In the match programme they claimed: "There is a lot of hard work required for the club to re-establish itself in the highest echelons of English football where we believe it belongs. It is important that any progress is sustainable."
There was nearly a flying start when John McGinn chased what appeared to be a hopeless cause only to win possession off Tyler Blackett.
But with the unmarked Jonathan Kodjia waiting for the pass, McGinn instead attempted a shot which keeper Vito Mannone saved at the second attempt.
In an open game, Villa left themselves vulnerable to the counter-attack and it was only a fine recovery by Birkir Bjarnason which prevented Jon Dadi Bodvarsson creating a clear-cut opening.
Reading continued to live dangerously and their ragged defence was often stretched to the limit. Mannone made a brave save from Anwar El Ghazi while Chester smashed a 12-minute effort against the bar.
WATCH: : #Royals fan @MissBeckaEllen from #ReadingFC blog @TheTilehurstEnd hopes a 1-1 draw against Aston Villa will be the turning point in their season.— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) August 25, 2018
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Kodjia, Villa's two-goal hero against Brentford in midweek, had another of his frustrating games when he failed to pose any real danger to the Royals as he was kept in tight check by skipper Liam Moore.
Villa's prospects were somewhat dented when they were forced to bring on Conor Hourihane at the start of the second half for Jack Grealish, who had not made his usual impact.
But they shrugged off this disappointment by rising to the challenge and taking the lead through the unmarked Elmohamady, who was on hand to head home a left-wing cross from El Ghazi.
Nine minutes from time Villa goalkeeper Orjan Nyland earned his spurs with two reflex goal-line saves in quick succession from Baldock and substitute Yakou Meite.
But Baldock had the last laugh when he converted a penalty at the death.
Steve Bruce: "There was no need for Chester to have gone to ground. It was a cardinal sin. I've known him the best part of six years and I've never seen him do anything like that because usually he stays on his feet as long as anybody. You cannot give the referee that temptation to award a penalty.
"Although we made a decent start we made a few mistakes which have unfortunately cost us dearly."
Paul Clement: "The point was good for the confidence of the team. We have had a difficult start to the season from the opening game against Derby. This appeared as if was going to be another fine-margin defeat but I am really pleased with the players who pushed and pushed themselves.
"In the 83rd minute there was a brilliant double save from their goalkeeper and we could have given up. But they kept going right until the end to earn another valuable point with the penalty goal."