Owusu woos Reading
Lloyd Owusu's first goal for Reading since joining on loan from Sheffield Wednesday belatedly sparked a dull contest into life as Ipswich heeded the wake-up call.
Defender John McGreal's smartly poached equaliser kept Joe Royle's Ipswich side very much in the promotion frame but on this evidence both clubs remain woefully short of the quality necessary at Premiership level.
Without a win in five games, it was little surprise to find that Reading's approach play was tentative while Ipswich looked more comfortable on the ball with Jim Magilton at the hub of their operations. Magilton, accused of diving by home fans to claim a late penalty when the sides met on the season's opening day, was roundly booed every time he touched the ball.
In the previous home match against Wimbledon, the supporters had directed jeers at their own team after a dismal 3-0 defeat by the Division's bottom club. It was the third fixture in succession that they had lost by that scoreline so the natives of Berkshire were entitled to be restless.
There was little to suggest a marked improvement in the first 20 minutes as a solitary header which looped over the bar by Owusu was the only threat to Kelvin Davis's goal.
Considering the visitors were aiming to consolidate a top-six slot and their opponents desperately wanted to re-launch a push for a play-off place, it was turning out to be a strangely muted affair. James Harper's first-time drive from distance almost broke the monotony with Davis being forced to juggle the ball as it thundered against his chest. But no one was alert enough to profit from the fumble.
The crowd's disapproval eventually got to Magilton who, after contesting a caution for Pablo Counago too vociferously, was booked himself. He had even more cause for head-shaking soon after the interval, misdirecting a close-range header from Jermaine Wright's inviting cross.
It was a miss Ipswich were made to rue as Reading, with winger Scott Murray one of their few lively performers, suddenly crafted a goal out of nothing. Marcus Hahnemann cut out a deep cross, instantly booted an enormous clearance towards the right touchline and Murray wasted no time in despatching the ball into the middle where Owusu glanced it home. An hour of pure tedium had been abruptly curtailed by a strike of stunning simplicity.
Royle's response was to send on substitutes Martin Reuser and Dean Bowditch, and with 11 minutes the duo had set up the leveller. Bowditch met Reuser's corner at the far post and his shot was diverted past Hahnemann by McGreal from five yards out.
Steve Thomson (Sunday Telegraph)