English Premiership

Late penalty gives Reading draw

2012-08-18 19:27
Soccer Ball (File)

Reading - Reading marked their return to the Premier League after a four-year absence in dramatic fashion as Adam Le Fondre's late penalty rescued a 1-1 draw against Stoke on Saturday.

The Royals looked set to be taught a harsh lesson in the realities of top-flight football after Australian goalkeeper Adam Federici's howler gifted Michael Kightly a debut goal for Stoke.

But new signing Garath McCleary came off the bench to turn the game, winning the penalty that saw Stoke midfielder Dean Whitehead sent off and allowed striker Le Fondre to stroke home the equaliser.

While Championship winners Reading were relieved to avoid defeat, Royals boss Brian McDermott may be concerned at the way Stoke dominated before McCleary's intervention.

A succession of niggly Stoke fouls ruined what little flow there was in the first half and referee Kevin Friend's patience snapped when he booked Whitehead for tripping Reading new boy Danny Guthrie.

Kaspars Gorkss should have hit the target for Reading with a free header from Guthrie's corner, but the hosts gifted Stoke the lead in the 34th minute.

The Royals defence failed to clear a routine straight ball, which fell to Kightly, who was given an age to control and shoot.

His strike took a slight nick off Gorkss but not enough to deceive Federici, who allowed it to trickle through his arms.

When Whitehead escaped a red card for felling Pavel Pogrebnyak in full flight on the edge of the box, it seemed Stoke would cling on.

But moments later McCleary was allowed to advance unchallenged into the area and was upended by Whitehead.

Friend allowed play to continue and fellow substitute Noel Hunt was denied by Begovic but the referee brought play back, awarding the penalty and showing Whitehead a second yellow card.

Le Fondre despatched the spot-kick to spark wild celebrations from the home fans.

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