Reading 1-1 Fulham: 10-man Cottagers nick a point
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 12/08/17 6:51pm
Reading laboured to a 1-1 Championship draw with a battling Fulham side that had to play almost the entire match with only 10 men.
Fulham lost centre-back Tomas Kalas to a red card with only 30 seconds gone after he had committed a last-man foul on Reading winger Mo Barrow.
Reading struggled to capitalise but made the breakthrough just past the hour, when midfielder Liam Kelly lashed in his third goal in two matches. Fulham levelled seven minutes from time, when substitute Lucas Piazon took advantage of poor home defending.
The sides met in the play-offs semi-finals last season, with Reading going through 2-1 on aggregate after a 1-1 draw at Craven Cottage and 1-0 win at Madejski Stadium.
Reading opened their campaign this time around with a 2-0 defeat at QPR while Fulham drew 1-1 at home with Norwich.
The match got off to a stunning start, when Kalas was sent off with only 30 seconds on the clock. Barrow wriggled free just outside the Fulham area and, with a clear run on goal, was brought down by Kalas' poor challenge.
Referee Simon Hooper issued a straight red to the Czech, with Fulham head coach Slavisa Jokanovic having to react quickly by replacing midfielder Neeskens Kebano with defender Denis Odoi.
Reading made their numerical advantage count when Chris Gunter crossed from the right, with Fulham goalkeeper David Button having to make a fine save from Joseph Mendes' powerful downward header.
Fulham were forced to contain, rarely venturing into the home half, but did a solid job preventing Reading from creating too many chances. However, from a poor back pass from former Reading player Oliver Norwood, Button had to move smartly to deny the onrushing Kelly.
Norwood almost atoned for his error with a superb 25-yard strike that was tipped over the bar by Reading keeper Vito Mannone.
Reading continued to dominate in the second half, with Button saving comfortably from Tiago Ilori's ambitious 20-yard attempt. Button then had to hurl himself to his left to palm away Swift's curling goalbound effort from a similar distance.
Fulham replied through captain Sone Aluko but his long-range attempt fell well wide. In the 61st minute, Fulham's resistance finally broke. Mendes laid the ball back and Kelly, who scored both goals in the cup win over Gillingham on Tuesday, drove home low and hard past Button.
But Fulham rallied bravely and, following a mistake by Joey van den Berg, former Reading loanee Piazon ran through to beat Mannone for the late equaliser and an unexpected point.
Jaap Stam: "It's a game that we controlled from the start and obviously it helped us when they had a man sent off at the beginning. We wanted to be very aggressive going forward from the first minute. That's why Modou won the ball, was going towards goal and then got tripped.
"The plan was different after the red card. First, we needed to see how Fulham would react, what they were going to do. Were they still going to go forward or would they sit deep? They made [the pitch] very small at times, with even their two strikers going back into midfield.
Slavisa Jokanovic: "It was not easy for us to play without one player after half a minute. The team showed tactical ability, they defended very well, we stuck together and were organised. We had to change many things after the red card but we adapted very well and showed great character.
"After playing 90 minutes with only 10 men, it is not easy to fix all the problems that happen. They scored the first goal but we caught them making one mistake. That was a priceless point for us."