By Isaac Farnworth –
Jaap Stam cut a frustrated figure for the second week in a row as his Reading side could only manager a goalless draw against a resolute Barnsley.
The Royals boss admitted his disappointment at the result, but accepted that the visitors defended well.
Reading would have to settle for only a point on a chilly afternoon at Madejski Stadium as neither side could find the quality required to produce a winner. Barnsley had a shot come
back off the post in the second half while Reading had attempts blocked from close range from Liam Kelly and Roy Beerens.
Consecutive draws see Reading drop to fourth in the Championship table after Huddersfield Town held on to win away at QPR.
The state of the pitch was a recurring cause for concern come the final whistle amongst the Reading players and the manager.
“I don’t want to use it always as an excuse but if you look at the pitch and how it is the state of it and how you need to play and how you want to play, it makes it very difficult to play your own game,” said Stam.
“To create chances, which we did, and we could have scored goals, that [pitch] doesn’t make it easier.
“Second half we did better, in terms of movement, the runs in behind, in between, passing the ball.
“You deserve a bit more if you look at the chances. (We) had one or two more chances than them and a lot more possession.
“You can see at the end of the game that they [Barnsley] were happy with a point.”
It was Reading who applied the pressure early with Yann Kermorgant firing over the bar when the ball broke to the French forward following Kelly’s corner.
Shortly after, Kelly went close from 20 yards and the young Irishman also had a shot blocked from close range by Barnsley centre-back Angus MacDonald, when he was played through by Reading winger Garath McCleary.
Marley Watkins posed a serious threat down the right for the Tykes and it was Watkins who squandered the best chance of the first half when he was played through on goal by a swift counter attack after a Reading corner routine didn’t find its target, but his shot was tame under pressure from Royals left-back Tyler Blackett.
As the first period drew to a close both sides fought to produce some quality to move in front but neither a leaping Kermorgant header for Reading or off target effort from Tom Bradshaw could prevent the scoreline remaining goalless at the break.
Reading began brightly in a second half that began at a relentless tempo as they forced a corner straight from the restart but Kermorgant again headed over.
Barnsley’s Bradshaw saw a stunning 25-yard looping volley land on the roof of Ali Al-Habsi’s net before Kermorgant’s thunderous shot was smartly saved by Tykes keeper Davies.
Barnsley were inches away from taking the lead when Watkins’ poked effort come back off the post but the Reading defence were able to clear the rebound away.
It was then Reading’s turn to go close when McCleary’s cross was scuffed by Danny Williams and the ball fell to Beerens but a superb block by Tykes defender Jones prevented the ball from finding its target.
Barnsley survived the wave of Reading attacks and penalty appeals including a Williams shot that was tipped over the bar late on but the Tykes held on to frustrate the Royals and make sure that the points were shared.
READING (ratings out of 10): Al-Habsi 7, Gunter (c) 8, Obita 8, Blackett 8.5*, Moore 8, Evans 8, Williams 6, Kelly 8 (Grabban 45 7), Beerens 7 (Meite 90+2 n/a), McCleary 7.5 (Popa 82 n/a), Kermorgant 8.
Yellow cards: Obita (34), Gunter (69)
Subs not used: Swift, Watson, Jaakkola, Oxford.
BARNSLEY: Davies, Yiadom, Roberts, MacDonald, Jones, Watkins, Scowen (Moncur 48), James, Hammill (Kent 89), Williams (Armstrong 67), Bradshaw.
Subs not used: Townsend, Evans, Hedges, Elder
Yellow Cards: Jones (61), Armstrong (90+5)
Referee: Darren Bond