A dominant Reading struggled to break down an organised Pulis side in a 1-1 draw marred by poor refereeing decisions.
The game started with Reading controlling play, and in transition they created the opening opportunity with Joao breaking in to the left of the box and firing across goal.
Against the run of the early play, Wednesday took the lead with a move right out of the Pulis playbook. Ejaria turned the ball over in the middle of the park, and Reach had drifted in to Holmes’ blindspot. Reach burst down the left and his delivery was met at the far stick by Paterson who made no mistake, nodding across goal.
It could have been 2-0 moments later, as a wicked delivery from the right found Paterson again in front of goal. This time he could only glance wide as Reading started to wake up defensively.
On 20 minutes, Reading starlet Olise nearly drew Reading level with a delightful free kick from the edge of the area directly in front of goal that struck Wildsmith’s left hand post. The 18 year old has caught the eye of Europe’s elite clubs and was showing why.
Less than half an hour into the game, however, and Owls were down to ten men. Shaw flew in recklessly, and frankly needlessly, at Richards in the middle of the park, over the ball and showing a clean set of studs. It wasn’t a quite ‘stonewaller’, but the right decision from Oliver Langford, with Pulis expressing his disappointment in Shaw after the whistle.
If Pulisball was to sit on a 1-0 lead for 78 minutes, the red card ensured it. However, it was almost all undone by a moment of inspiration from former Owl Lucas Joao, as he met an Olise corner with a clever backheel from close range straight at the grateful Wildsmith.
Wildsmith was in action soon after as Semedo connected well with an Ejaria delivery. The Owls stopper took flight to tip the ball over for another corner.
Reading’s dominance was really starting to show now as Richards’ mazy run in to the box went unchallenged. His delivery nearly found Holmes for a tap in, but Reach… reached out with his left leg to somehow divert the ball over the bar.
Finally, the inevitable breakthrough came. A dinked free kick on the left edge of the box from Ejaria found Joao at the far post who had gotten in front of a very handsy Paterson to nod Reading level at half time.
Where the first half was dominated by quality, pragmatic football, the second was to be dominated by a comedy of refereeing errors.
Right after the break, Olise released the mercurial Richards in to the box for a simple one on one. That is until the Wednesday defender crumpled in to the back of Richards. Many would say this was a penalty, some a red card as there was zero attempt to play the ball. Naturally, the decision was a free kick to the hosts.
The second half became very attritional, with Reading struggling to break down an incredibly well organised Wednesday defence. On the rare occasion they did break, the final ball couldn’t quite meet the runners making their way in to the danger zone.
Frustrating it was then, when with a quarter of the game remaining, Morrison rose best to an Olise corner only to see it flash across the face of goal with no one to poke in.
As Reading pressed on, the ever present danger of Kadeem Harris on the counter attack gave Moore and Morrison food for thought, with Moore in particular reacting on a couple of occasions to make sure that Harris’ pace didn’t give much opportunity for an ill deserved winner for the hosts.
Reading were incredibly patient in attack, almost to the point of lethargy. However Esteves made a bright drive in to the box, and after some ping pong the ball nearly fell to Aluko to poke home from a couple of yards, but Wildsmith was alive to the danger and gathered quickly.
With a couple of minutes left on the clock came perhaps the most contentious moment of the game. Aluko and Ejaria worked a free kick well down the left. Aluko fizzed a ball behind the line of attackers to Laurent. His shot was well on it’s way to sending Reading to the summit of the Championship, before Reach managed to get his arm in the way to block the shot. No penalty.
Laurent found himself in apoplexy once more soon after as he looked to roll Kachunga in the box. Laurent was hauled down for another penalty shout, though replays showed both players had a hold of each other as the game faded to a stalemate.
Frustration for Reading, though in truth they did not create as many clear cut opportunities against a well drilled Sheffield Wednesday as they might have hoped. For Wednesday, draws against Swansea, Stoke and Reading probably represent good value as they look to climb the table.
Reading host Forest and 2,000 fans in another lunchtime kick off on Saturday, and the Owls face off with the Canaries on a long away trip to Norfolk.