Reading put up a fierce effort against Newcastle but were forced to settle for a point despite having the lead with under 10 minutes to go. A late, controversial goal from Demba Ba that replays showed deflected off his hand, pulled the Magpies even for a 2-2 draw at the Madejski Stadium.
Pavel Pogrebnyak was the only interesting story line in the first half even though he wasn't able to actually score a goal. He had a header pushed over the bar by Steve Harper and was denied twice by excellent defensive plays from the Magpies. Newcastle had the better possession numbers but didn't really do much with it, not even managing a shot on goal. It's another reminder that while it's not a bad stat, it's not the best measure of a match.
After a dire first half, the second half was glorious fun. Reading scored first when Jimmy Kebe got the ball in the box, made a couple moves to create some space before hitting a low shot to the near post as he slipped and fell that rolled past a frozen Harper. The Royals joy was short lived though as a minute later, Newcastle's Demba Ba answered right back, running between two Reading defenders and beating Alex McCarthy with beautifully struck volley off a long pass from Cheik Tiote
Reading, unperturbed by the equalizer, struck right back. Jobi McAnuff, despite being covered on the left wing by two Newcastle player, drove towards the end line and snuck a cross around Hatem Ben Arfa. Noel Hunt met the pass and sent a header that bounced hard against the ground once before beating Harper and sneaking inside the far post.
Demba Ba equalized for Newcastle in the 83rd minute in controversial fashion. Shane Ferguson whipped in a cross that Ba headed down and off his hand, redirecting it past McCarthy. A couple Reading players appealed but none of the match officials appeared to see the hand ball, so the goal stood. At full speed it was extremely hard to see and on replays, there didn't appear to be any intentional effort by Ba with his arm to control the ball. Still, Reading will likely be less than pleased after looking at the tape later.
Reading's Jason Roberts had two great chances in the 88th minute, first forcing a tremendous reflect save from Harper and then sending a shot just wide of the post seconds later.