Match ends, Reading 1, Cardiff City 1.
FA Cup semi-finalists Reading were unable ease to any lingering relegation fears as Championship rivals Cardiff claimed a last-minute draw.
Russian striker Pavel Pogrebnyak handed the Royals an early lead when he nudged in Garath McCleary's knockdown.
But they allowed Cardiff to snatch a point when Conor McAleny blasted in a shot from Aron Gunnarsson's neat pass.
Sixth-bottom Reading are nine points clear of the bottom three with seven games left.
The Berkshire club have the benefit of an extra match left to play over the rest of the bottom eight.
Reading, who face Arsenal in the FA Cup last four at Wembley on 18 April, have impressed in the cup, but have been unable to replicate their form in the second tier.
They had won only two of their previous nine league matches, losing six of them, before hosting Cardiff at Madejski Stadium.
However, they made a positive start when Pogrebnyak guided McCleary's header past away keeper David Marshall for his third goal in two matches.
Captain Alex Pearce almost doubled their lead by rising to meet McCleary's corner, only to see opposing centre-back Michael Hector block his header.
The Welsh club started the match in 14th position after an inconsistent season, but arrived on the back of a three-match unbeaten streak.
However, Russell Slade's men barely threatened until Everton loanee McAleny's late intervention lifted them above Leeds into 13th.
Reading boss Steve Clarke:
"The FA Cup is not on the agenda, I'm just talking about the league. I thought we played well enough to get the three points.
"It's a game that we should have finished off long before they equalised.
"When you go into the last five minutes and it's only 1-0, you always leave yourselves vulnerable. But it's a point further away from the bottom three.
"We've got seven league games left and we've set ourselves a little points tally. I'm not telling you what it is but we're now a point on the way to that tally."
Cardiff manager Russell Slade:
"All in all, it was a very tight game,. We started well enough but our marking for the goal was disappointing.
"I thought we grew into the game and we kept going. We stayed in it and it was really worth it when we got that late goal.
"We want to try to keep the momentum going until the end of the season. And I think we're achieving that at the moment.
"We'd like to finish the season strongly. We're now more consistent and resilient."
- 12McClearySubstituted forNorwoodat 74'minutes
- 9Robson-KanuSubstituted forBlackmanat 85'minutes
- 19MackieSubstituted forAppiahat 68'minutes
- 2PeltierSubstituted forMaloneat 84'minutes
- 5Ecuele Manga
- 3da Silva
- 21RallsSubstituted forKennedyat 65'minutes
- 13DoyleSubstituted forMasonat 65'minutes
- Scott Duncan
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Reading 1, Cardiff City 1.
Bruno Ecuele Manga (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Pavel Pogrebnyak (Reading).
Goal! Reading 1, Cardiff City 1. Conor McAleny (Cardiff City) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the top left corner. Assisted by Aron Gunnarsson.
Substitution, Reading. Nick Blackman replaces Hal Robson-Kanu.
Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Nathan Aké (Reading).
Substitution, Cardiff City. Scott Malone replaces Lee Peltier.
Foul by Bruno Ecuele Manga (Cardiff City).
Pavel Pogrebnyak (Reading) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt saved. Matthew Kennedy (Cardiff City) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Joe Mason.
Conor McAleny (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Nathan Aké (Reading).
Attempt blocked. Conor McAleny (Cardiff City) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Hal Robson-Kanu.
Substitution, Reading. Oliver Norwood replaces Garath McCleary.
Michael Hector (Reading) hits the bar with a header from very close range following a corner.
Corner, Reading. Conceded by Sean Morrison.
Attempt saved. Kwesi Appiah (Reading) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Pavel Pogrebnyak with a cross.