Reading’s outside chances of reaching the Championship play-offs suffered a setback when they were held to a late 1-1 draw by Cardiff at Madejski Stadium.
A poor first half produced little goalmouth action at either end, though Reading goalkeeper Rafael did have to make a smart save to push away a well-struck shot from Harry Wilson.
Although Reading improved radically after the break, they missed a series of chances and paid the price when Kieffer Moore slammed in an 87th-minute penalty.
But they responded in the fourth minute of stoppage time when Yakou Meite nodded home from close range to rescue a point.
After a poor recent run with just one win in six games, Reading found themselves out of the top six for the first time since mid-December – five points adrift of AFC Bournemouth and Barnsley.
Cardiff had recorded only one victory in seven outings before the trip to Berkshire, the Welsh club having fallen well off the promotion pace to sit 12 points off the top six and seven behind Reading.
Both teams and officials observed a minute’s silence before kick-off as a mark of respect to Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who died a week ago.
Cardiff began the better in the bright sunshine, with Wilson surging forward only to be brought down by Liam Moore on the edge of the home area.
Wilson tapped the resulting free-kick to Will Vaulks but his powerful shot was kept out by the defensive wall.
And again it was Wilson involved when the Wales winger cut in from the right flank, unleashing a fierce drive that Rafael did well to parry away.
Little was seen of Reading as an attacking threat until shortly before the half-hour, when Michael Olise and Ovie Ejaria saw long-range attempts blocked by the solid City rearguard.
Meite went closer soon after but his goalward flick from Olise’s chipped pass was comfortably saved by goalkeeper Alex Smithies.
Reading started brightly after the interval, with Ejaria testing Smithies from outside the box.
But the hosts were dealt a blow when 22-goal top scorer Lucas Joao had to be substituted in the 58th minute due to an injury.
Cardiff were grimly holding on but were assisted by wayward finishing from Meite, who squandered three decent opportunities in swift succession.
City could have gone ahead on the break towards the end but Wilson’s clever dink over the onrushing Rafael was hacked off the goal-line by Andy Yiadom.
But they fared better with three minutes remaining when Omar Richards clumsily fouled Kieffer Moore, who then rifled home the spot-kick for his 17th league goal of the season.
However, Reading hit back in stoppage time when Meite was on hand to nod home a Sam Baldock cross from close range to secure a share of the spoils.
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