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Premier League

  • September 29, 2012
  • • 10:00 AM
  • • Madejski Stadium, Reading, Berkshire
  • Referee: A. Marriner
  • • Attendance: 24097

Reading 2-2 Newcastle: Ba double ensures Royals’ wait for first league win continues

After a poor first half from both sides, the game came to life in the second with three goals in four minutes leaving the Royals 2-1 up, but a late goal stole Pardew a point

Reading's search for a first Premier League victory of the season continues after the Royals were held to a draw by Newcastle at home on Saturday, thanks to a controversial late goal from Demba Ba.

Chances were few and far between in the first half, with Stephen Harper saving well from Pavel Pogrebnyak to keep the scores level. After the second half threatened to be as dull as the first for a short period, the Royals got themselves in front through Jimmy Kebe, only for Ba to provide an instant reply.

However, two minutes later Noel Hunt thought he had won it for the hosts, only for the Senegal international to grab a dubious second five minutes from time.

Brian McDermott made just two replacements from the League Cup loss to QPR in midweek, with Jobi McAnuff and Mikele Leigertwood coming in for Jay Tabb and Hal Robson-Kanu. Former Newcastle man Danny Guthrie was among the substitutes.

Alan Pardew, on the other hand, made a host of changes following the Manchester United defeat. Yohan Cabaye missed out with a mouth infection, with Tim Krul and Fabricio Coloccini also sidelined, but Cheikh Tiote, Hatem Ben Arfa, Ba and Papiss Cisse all returned.

After a number of almost chances, with the likes of Papiss Cisse and Pogrebnyak just failing to find the right touch, or the service not quite being good enough, it took until the half hour mark for Reading to conjure up the first real opportunity.

Jobi McAnuff and Nicky Shorey knocked the ball about with purpose, before the former fired a deep cross to the back post. Pogrebnyak rose above Steven Taylor to powerfully head the ball at goal, however Harper was equal to it and tipped the effort over.

The match then continued as it had gone before, with Tiote and Gael Bigirimana keeping the ball well for the visitors, who were slightly on top. Ben Arfa also looked lively on the counterattack, the Frenchman threatening with a number of good runs, but he was unable to find a final product.

Towards the end of the half the Royals began to look more dangerous, with several balls being delivered from the right, however the Magpies' defense held firm with James Perch making one magnificent goal-saving tackle to deny Pogrebnyak.

The opening ten minutes of the second half continued as the first, with neither side managing to carve out any real chances, however just before the hour mark the clash erupted.

Kebe put Reading ahead with a scuffed effort from inside the box that sent Harper the wrong way, after a swift break from which McAnuff found the midfielder.

However, before the fans could finish their celebratory chant Ba smashed home a magnificent first-time volley after a long ball from midfield, levelling the scores.

Instead of going into shock, though, the hosts replied in the best possible way - with another goal just two minutes later. McAnuff yet again was the man to provide the assist as he crossed for Hunt, who glanced a header past Harper.

After the flurry of action, chances once again become scarce, and with just under 20 minutes to go Ben Arfa had a brilliant opportunity for the visitors. The midfielder showed skill to race down the right and cut inside, but saw his strike saved by McCarthy's legs.

With just over five minutes left, Newcastle snatched an equalizer, somewhat controversially, when it seemed Reading would see the game out. Shane Ferguson delivered from the left for Ba to finish, however, the last touch was definitely off the striker's hand.

There was still time for one last Reading chance, Harper denying Jason Roberts a late winner, meaning Reading's winless streak continues.