Reading: Al Habsi; Gunter, Hector, Ferdinand, A Taylor; Norwood, Fernández; Blackman, Vydra, John; Sá
Subs: Bond, Obita, McCleary, Hurtado, Williams, Cooper, Liburd.
The Royals' trip down the M4 to the Cardiff City Stadium turned out to be one of great frustration, as a spirited Cardiff City defence, including an inspired display from goalkeeper David Marshall, kept a threatening Reading attack at bay to claim victory.
Reading began brightly, with Matej Vydra and Orlando Sá testing the Cardiff keeper Marshall early on. The Bluebirds eventually grew into the game and it seemed as if the two sides were preparing to head into the break all-square. However, the home side were able to land a sucker punch on the cusp of half-time, as the Trinidad and Tobago international Kenwyne Jones rose highest in the box to meet Joe Ralls free kick and found the corner of the net with his head.
Just 5 minutes into the second half, it was again the Royals' defensive frailties from a set-piece that allowed the Bluebirds to double their advantage at the Cardiff City Stadium. Joe Ralls again served as provider, as his corner from the left hand side was met in the box by former Reading loanee Matthew Connolly, whose header beat Ali Al-Habsi on its' way to the top left hand corner.
There was an automatic response from the Royals, as both Vydra and Nick Blackman saw efforts denied, before Aron Gunnarsson's speculative effort could have made it 3-0 to Cardiff, with his shot fizzing just wide. Moments later, Oliver Norwood had his own long range attempt saved by the impressive Marshall in the Cardiff net, as the Scotland international continued to frustrate the Reading attack.
Steve Clarke responded to the Royals' ever increasing need for a goal with a double substitution just after the hour mark, with Rowan Liburd being handed his first ever Football League appearance in place of Ola John, and Danny Williams coming on for Alex Fernández. These substitutions coincided with a more attacking period for Reading, but attempts from Williams and again the ever industrious Norwood were not enough to break through a spirited Bluebird defence.
The Royals' and Steve Clarke's last roll of the dice came with the final substitution of Pablo Hurtado coming on for Matej Vydra in the 76th minute. The visitors continued to press, but a herculean performance from David Marshall in the Cardiff City net saw him pull off some top draw saves to deny Norwood, Hector and Sá in quick succession.
The closing minutes saw the Royals continue to press, but once again the Royals found only frustration as opposed to a breakthrough. After 5 minutes of additional time, the referee finally blew the whistle to draw an end to a match which saw the Royals' winless run extended to five consecutive league games.
We'll have more reaction up as soon as possible, including a full report and player ratings, so check back for that a little later this weekend.