Edwards strikes but Blues go down to late Barrow goal
Mo Barrow’s late winner for Reading leaves Town with a massive task ahead to get away from the relegation zone.
Gwion Edwards looked to have given Blues a point with a smart finish seven minutes from time after Nelson Oliveira’s first-half opener.
There were chances at either end but Barrow got on the end of a Reading counter to leave Town 12 points adrift.
Town made two changes to the side that drew with Wigan last week, James Collins and Teddy Bishop coming in for the suspended Jonas Knudsen and the injured Will Keane.
Myles Kenlock cleared from Oliviera’s cross, Yakou Meite firing wide as Reading started on the front foot, Town responding with Trevoh Chalobah high and wide from 25 yards.
The Chelsea loanee had another strike blocked by the Royals’ defence, Emiliano Martinez coming a long way to gather a free-kick but not getting contact, the ‘keeper relieved to see a Town header drift well wide.
Oliveira was booked for diving after looking for a penalty as Bart Bialkowski challenged the striker, Collins using his experience to stop Meite in his tracks but on 19 minutes the visitors were ahead, Oliveira found the top corner after Garath McCleary had set him up.
John Swift was just wide with a curler as Reading threatened a second, McCleary seeing a goalbound shot blocked by Collins, then Oliveira well wide from distance.
Collins did superbly to halt Meite’s run towards goal as Reading continued to pose a threat, Bialkowski saving comfortably from Swift, the ‘keeper holding on again from an excellent overhead kick from Meite.
Alan Judge volleyed wide after Town exerted some pressure on the away goal, Liam Moore joining the growing list of yellow cards after catching Collin Qauner as he broke, but at the other end McCleary was inches wide of a second for Reading after getting on the end of Martinez’s excellent kick.
Town were forced into a change just before the break with Collins replaced by Toto Nsiala.
Martinez saved low down from Judge, Quaner’s brilliant run and touch to Bishop then set up Jon Nolan, his shot superbly saved by Martinez in Town’s best opening of the first-half.
With the final kick of the first 45 minutes, Bialkowski smothered Swift’s corner off the goalline to safety.
Town made two substitutions at half-time, James Bree and Chalobah replaced by Edwards and Cole Skuse as Paul Lambert - watching from the directors’ box in the second of his touchline ban - shuffled his pack.
Edwards’ pace gave Town an outlet down the right, his cross cleared at full stretch by Moore, good work by Nsiala then setting up Judge whose shot was beaten out by Martinez, Blues claiming a penalty as the January signing went for the rebound.
Oliveira pulled up on the hour with what looked like a hamstring injury, Barrow the replacement.
Skuse volleyed over as Town turned up the heat on the Reading goal, Nolan coming to Blues’ rescue seconds later, clearing from six yards, the midfielder then picking up a yellow card for a foul on Swift.
Another Edwards cross almost led to an equaliser, Martinez clawing the ball off the line after it had cannoned off a Reading defender, Andy Yiadom hooking the ball to safety as Myles Kenlock looked to pounce from close range.
Martinez saved from Bishop’s glancing header, Meite denied at the other end after a slick break as Reading looked for a killer second goal. It was Town that found the net though on 83 minutes, Edwards volleying in from eight yards to set up a grandstand finish to the game.
Swift dragged a shot wide, Quaner winning a free-kick 20 yards out that Judge sent over the bar but on 90 minutes Reading broke and Barrow found the net.
Town still had chances to rescue a point, Edwards was denied by Martinez, Luke Chambers headed wide, then Quaner did the same but the points slipped away.
Town: Bialkowski, Bree (Edwards 46), Chambers, Pennington, Collins (Nsiala 39), Kenlock, Nolan, Chalobah (Skuse 46), Judge, Bishop, Quaner. Subs not used: Gerken, Jackson, Downes, Dozzell. Booked: Nsiala, Edwards.
Reading: Martinez, Yiadom, Moore, Swift, McCleary (Harriott 80), Baker, Ejaria (Loader 89), Miazga, Meite, Oliveira (Barrow 58), Blackett. Subs not used: Walker, Gunter, O’Shea, McShane. Booked: Blackett, Oliveira, Moore.