Barnsley 1-1 Reading: Lucas Joao misses a SITTER as he fires wide despite an open goal with the scores level as the Royals miss out on chance to jump ahead of Valerian Ismael’s side in their battle to make the play-offs
- 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
- Neither side could find a winner and had to settle for a draw in a crucial game
- Reading could have gone ahead of Barnsley into fifth if they took a victory
Lucas Joao’s goals have been at the heart of Reading’s promotion push but it will be for his miss of the season at Oakwell last night that he will be remembered if they become 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.
When Callum Styles worked the ball back to his goalkeeper Brad Collins, he was oblivious to the fact that Yakou Meite had lingered in the area following the breakdown of the previous attack – Meite won the challenge with Collins and had the strength to lay the ball into the path of the 18-goal Joao who, with the keeper floored, fluffed the chance 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
A point was enough to sneak Reading back above Bournemouth in sixth and keep within two points of fifth-placed Barnsley but things could have been so much better.
Veljko Paunovic’s team went ahead through Ovie Ejaria’s third league goal since a £3.5million move from Liverpool last August but were pegged back by another of the division’s surprise promotion candidates through Alex Mowatt’s penalty on the hour.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
John O’Shea patted Joao on the back after his first-half efforts with Reading go in ahead
However he fired wide in the second-half despite an open net being offered up to him
Victor Adebyoejo has an attempt which is blocked by Liam Moore and Michael Morrison