Reading 1-1 Nottingham Forest

Stephen Kelly's injury-time header earned Reading a point and denied fellow Championship promotion-hopefuls Nottingham Forest a third win in a row.

The visitors deservedly led at the break through Greg Halford's header.

Halford and substitute Matt Derbyshire both wasted good opportunities to wrap up the points after the interval.

But the Reds failed to make their chances count and Kelly equalised when he met a Royston Drenthe free-kick in the fifth of six minutes of added time.

Kelly's late intervention at a rain-lashed Madejski Stadium means ninth-placed Reading remain just one point off the play-offs and keeps them to within five points of Forest, who stay fifth.

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It was a bitter blow for Forest, who despite stretching their unbeaten sequence to seven games, are now 11 points adrift of Championship leaders Leicester.

The Royals had the first noteworthy chance of a quiet opening, but Billy Sharp was too slow to react against his former club and Jamaal Lascelles was able to recover from an error and clear the ball.

Having survived that scare Forest started to get on top, twice going close through long-range Jamie Paterson strikes.

Danny Guthrie did shoot just over for the hosts but Forest went ahead on 36 minutes when Reid swung over a free-kick from the left and Halford jumped highest to send a looping header in to the net - his third goal in as many games.

A Reading side lacking in confidence and cohesion struggled to respond with Henri Lansbury and Reid dominating the midfield for the visitors.

Forest should have increased their lead when Reid chipped a cross into the home area and Halford headed straight at keeper Alex McCarthy, and Paterson was also denied by a last-ditch block from Kelly at McCarthy's near post.

The pattern of away profligacy continued as Derbyshire, the matchwinner against Leeds in Forest's last game, twice sent shots wide when well placed.

But the points seemed secure as an Alex Pearce header from a Danny Guthrie corner was nodded off the line by Derbyshire in what seemed to be the home side's final chance.

However, Kelly came to the rescue for Reading, securing a draw and ending a run of three consecutive defeats.

Reading manager Nigel Adkins:

"We've stopped the rot, we've stopped that losing trend. People can maybe now look at the positives and not the negatives, we've taken four points off a team who we expect to be at the top and challenging with us for promotion.

"We left it late but better late than never. We showed a lot of character to keep going, got back into it and were in the ascendancy at the end.

"If we can stay in the play-off race and get most of our injured players fit again, we'll have better opportunities in March and April."

Nottingham Forest manager Billy Davies:

"You can see just what we need and I've been saying that for a few weeks. The game should have been over, well and truly done.

We were just not clinical up front and we should have had a second goal, a third and a fourth - we've got to kill teams off.

"Nine tenths of our game was good, we just didn't defend in the last 10 seconds and it felt like a defeat. We may have got seven points from nine but it should have been more."

As It Stood

TeamPWDLGDPts
1Leicester2416351651
2Burnley2413831847
3QPR2413741246
4Derby2413561844
5Nottm Forest24101041040
6Ipswich24996936
7Brighton24996736
8Leeds241059735
9Reading24987235
10Blackburn24978234
11Wigan23968233
12Blackpool24888-432
13Huddersfield24879431
14Watford23797630
15Middlesbrough24798530
16Bournemouth248610-1030
17Birmingham24789129
18Bolton24699-527
19Charlton245910-824
20Sheff Wed234109-722
21Millwall245712-2322
22Doncaster245613-2321
23Yeovil234514-1817
24Barnsley243813-2117
View full Championship table

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