Match report: Reading 1 Sheffield Wednesday 1

In-form striker Gary Hooper claimed his seventh goal in as many matches to help Sheffield Wednesday secure a 1-1 draw at Reading.

Saturday, 23rd January 2016, 3:57 pm
Updated Saturday, 23rd January 2016, 4:04 pm
Gary Hooper celebrates his goal with Kieran Lee and Barry Bannan

The 27-year-old, recruited on a permanent basis from Norwich City yesterday, deservedly put the Owls ahead in the 10th minute, bagging his fifth goal in his last three starts.

But Carlos Carvalhal's troops were forced to settle for a point thanks to Jake Cooper's header.

Gary Hooper claims his seventh Owls goal.

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The result means Wednesday remain unbeaten in 2016 and keeps them in the final play-off position.

Reading will feel hard done by, having dominated the contest for long periods, but it could turn out to be a valuable point for the Owls in their promotion push.

Carvalhal kept faith with the majority of the side who triumphed at home to Leeds United, making just one alteration. Keiren Westwood returned in between the sticks following a six-match absence, having shrugged off a groin problem. Lewis Price, who performed ably versus Leeds, dropped to the substitutes bench.

New signing Joe Bennett, recruited on a season-long loan deal from Aston Villa last Tuesday, was included in the match-day squad.

Gary Hooper claims his seventh Owls goal.

Wednesday started on the front foot, knocking the ball around with confidence, class and composure.

Some of their build-up play was of the highest standard and Barry Bannan was unlucky not to put them ahead in the sixth minute after Ross Wallace cleverily squared a free-kick to him. His rasping left foot shot struck the base of Ali Al Habsi's left hand post.

It proved to be a short reprieve for the hosts as Hooper, who joined the Owls on a permanent basis yesterday, blasted in his seventh goal in as many matches following fine work on the right by Wallace and Kieran Lee.

Hooper looked in the mood to inflict more woe on Reading and his fierce half volley from distance forced Al Habsi into a smart save.

Mid-way through the half, Reading spurned a glorious chance to equalise when they were awarded a spot-kick after captain Glenn Loovens scythed down Matej Vyrdra. It was a reckless challenge and a definite penalty but Vydra fluffed his lines from 12 yards, firing against the upright.

It was a big let off for the Owls, who kept pushing for a second, with Forestieri testing the reflexes of Al Habsi following a mazy run.

Jack Hunt became the first player to be cautioned after hauling down the lively Vydra as Reading quickly shook off the disappointment of missing a penalty. Debutant George Evans dragged wide when well-placed to offer some encouragement to Brian McDermott's side.

On the stroke of half-time, Jordan Obita blazed over for the Royals after latching on to Lucas Piazon's pass.

Piazon was scraficed at the interval, with McDermott opting to throw on Yann Kermorgant on for his debut.

Reading struggled to find a way through Wednesday's well-organised backline and Danny Williams' tame drive was easily gathered by Westwood.

It was the visitors who created the first meaningful opportunity after the interval. A lovely counter attacking involving Lee, Forestieri and Wallace led to Bannan steering a left foot piledriver narrowly wide.

Loovens sliced Chris Gunter's cross behind as the Royals briefly enjoyed a sustained spell of pressure.

It was Gunter who came to the rescue of Reading on the hour mark, making a brave block to deflect over Forestieri's close range volley after a great centre by Lee.

With 16 minutes remaining, Cooper rose highest to nod in Oliver Norwood's corner as Wednesday paid the price for switching off from a dead ball situation.

All the momentum was with Reading and Norwood curled over a free-kick before Williams' volley flew wide.

In the closing stages, the Royals should have snatched maximum points but Kermorgant inexplicably glanced wide inside the six-yard box after a fine delivery by Norwood.

Reading: Al-Habsi; Gunter, Cooper, Ferdinand, Obita; Williams, Norwood, Evans (John 65), Robson-Kanu; Piazon (Kermorgant HT), Vydra. Substitutes: Bond, Taylor, Hector, Cox, Keown.

Owls: Westwood; Hunt, Sasso, Loovens, Pudil; Wallace (Helan 78), Hutchinson, Lee, Bannan; Forestieri (Joao 71), Hooper (Nuhiu 85). Substitutes: Price, Palmer, Semedo, Bennett.

Attendance: 18,972 (2,533)

Referee: Stephen Martin (Staffordshire)