Sunday, 16 May 2021

Reading miss out on top six

READING’S hopes of a top six finish in the Championship were ended after a 2-2 draw with Swansea, which secured the visitors a place in the play-offs.

Yakou Meite’s header gave the Royals a chance to claim the win they needed to keep up with the promotion-chasing pack but Jamal Lowe tapped in the equaliser.

Andre Ayew then put the Swans in front late in the game, only for Tomas Esteves to guide the ball home to earn Reading a point in stoppage time at the Madejski Stadium.

The result saw Swansea climb a place to fifth while Reading, who topped the table in the early stages of the season, stay seventh.

Royals boss Veljko Paunovic said: “It’s a very disappointing outcome. It is hard to accept that our season is over after how hard we have fought.

“Everyone has worked so hard to overcome setbacks and injuries and so many people have worked so hard to come back and help the team.

“But although it’s hard to take, we have to look at the positives. This season there has been a huge improvement in our character and our identity and we have an excellent mix of young and experienced players for next season.”

Swansea almost took the lead in the first minute but Ben Cabango headed wide of the far post before Wayne Routledge’s effort ricocheted over the bar.

Reading responded, making it count with their first sight at goal.

The breakthrough came from a throw-in. The ball made its way to John Swift, via Omar Richards and Lucas Joao, and his cross was met by Meite, who rose above Jake Bidwell to head home via the post.

Conor Hourihane’s loose pass then presented Joao with a chance to double Reading’s advantage before half-time, but Freddie Woodman saved sharply.

After the break, Reading’s Andy Rinomhota volleyed into the side netting before substitute Ayew inspired the Swansea leveller.

He took on three Reading players before flicking a backheel through Liam Moore’s legs, allowing Jay Fulton to surge into the Reading box. His low drive was parried by Rafael but Lowe scored the rebound.

Reading saw a penalty appeal turned down as Fulton grappled with Joao but then Bidwell rolled the ball across goal for Ayew to score.

The hosts replied in stoppage times as Esteves scored his first senior goal from the edge of the penalty area.

Reading travel to league leaders Norwich City tomorrow (Saturday), kick-off at 3pm.

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