Barnsley 1-1 Reading: Alex Mowatt scores from the spot to give Valerian Ismael’s side a crucial point in battle for the play-offs as Lucas Joao produces a miss of the SEASON contender that would’ve secured victory for Royals
- Reading took the lead through Ovie Ejaria after 34 minutes away at Barnsley
- Alex Mowatt scored a crucial equaliser from the penalty spot after 61 minutes
- Lucas Joao somehow missed an open goal that would’ve reclaimed the lead
- The result leaves both in the play-offs with Barnsley in fifth and Reading in sixth
Lucas Joao’s goals have fuelled Reading’s promotion push but it will be for his miss of the season at Oakwell on Friday night that he will be remembered if they finish as odd-ones-out in the skirmish for Championship play-off places.
The Portuguese striker inexplicably stroked wide of an open goal 16 minutes from time after Barnsley gifted their top-six rivals the chance to steal all three points.
Callum Styles passed back to his goalkeeper Brad Collins, oblivious to the fact that Yakou Meite lurked in the area following the breakdown of the previous attack. Meite held off the challenge of Collins and teed up the 18-goal Joao, who could not hit the target from 10 yards.
Lucas Joao missed a sitter which could have handed Reading a crucial win against Barnsley
Reading had taken the first-half lead with Ovie Ejarie scoring his third goal of the season
Alex Mowatt scored a second-half equaliser from the spot to hand Barnsley a point
Reading missed out on the chance to climb ahead of Barnsley in the fight for the play-offs
Barnsley: Collins, Sollbauer, Helik, Andersen, Brittain, Palmer (Halme 57), Mowatt, Styles, Frieser, Woodrow (Dike 46), Adeboyejo (Morris 46)
Unused subs: Walton, Jordan Williams, Chaplin, Sibbick, Oduor, Moon
Goal: Mowatt 61 (pen)
Booked: Woodrow, Palmer, Halme
Reading: Rafael Cabral, Yiadom, Moore, Gibson, Morrison (Holmes 42), Rinomhota, Laurent, Meite, Olise (Semedo 84), Ejaria, Lucas Joao
Unused subs: Tomas Esteves, Richards, Baldock, Southwood, Aluko, Tetek, Puscas
Goal: Ejaria 34
Referee: Geoff Eltringham
A draw was enough to nudge Reading back above Bournemouth in sixth and keep them within two points of fifth-placed Barnsley but things could have been so much better.
‘It is not a moment to do anything other than give him our support. We believe in him and we have to give Lucas credit for the goals he’s scored to give us points,’ said Reading manager Veljko Paunovic.
Reading led through Ovie Ejaria’s splendid solo effort, his third league goal since a £3.5million move from Liverpool last August but were pegged back through Alex Mowatt’s penalty on the hour.
‘It was a fight, a tough game. At the end of the season, it could be a very good point,’ said Barnsley head coach Valerien Ismael.
The contest saw Michal Helik slot back into the middle of Barnsley’s central defensive trio less than 48 hours after conceding the penalty that Harry Kane converted in England’s 2-1 win over Poland at Wembley.
Helik arrived in Yorkshire last September uncapped but has been one of the Championship’s standout players and could have crowned his return to club duty with the opening goal on the half hour when Mowatt’s free kick found him beyond the Reading backline but his header from eight yards lacked both power and direction, allowing Rafael Cabral to clutch comfortably.
John O’Shea patted Joao on the back after his first-half efforts with Reading going in ahead
However he fired wide in the second-half despite an open net being offered up to him
By that stage, however, the hosts should really have been behind such was the nature of two first-half chances to their forwards. Meite and Joao both had time to set themselves in front of goal only to produce wayward finishes.
But Ejaria showed them the composure required in the 34th-minute: plucking a Hail Mary clearance from Andy Rinomhota with a feathered touch on the left, he took the ball in his stride and strode unopposed across field before sliding it beyond the advancing Brad Collins.
It left Barnsley chasing a game on home soil one more, following Sheffield Wednesday’s ending of their 12-game unbeaten sequence immediately before the international break.
Victor Adebyoejo has an attempt which is blocked by Liam Moore and Michael Morrison
The lead looked precarious in the lead-up to the interval and was close to being lost when Callum Brittain’s attempted cross foxed Reading keeper Rafal Cabral and kissed the face of the crossbar.
Moments later, Brittain’s goal bound volley was prevented from reaching its intended target by Liam Moore’s flying block.
It was finally eroded on the hour, after Meite failed to toe past Collins on the stretch, when former Barnsley defender Andy Yiadom was penalised for grabbing at Callum Styles in the area and Mowatt converted from 12 yards.