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West Brom 1 Reading 1 - Report and pictures

By Matt Wilson | West Bromwich Albion | Published:

It was third time lucky for Albion, who were finally given a penalty in the 88th minute after having two shouts turned down to escape a frustrating game against a vibrant Reading side with a point.

Kenneth Zohore rifled in a confidence-boosting first goal of the season, sending Rafael Cabral the wrong way under immense pressure to ensure the Baggies kept their unbeaten start to the Championship intact.

Albion had already had two appeals - one in each half - turned down by referee Peter Bankes. The first one, which came less than three minutes in when the impressive Darnell Furlong was brought down, was a particularly questionable decision.

When Ovie Ejaria, Reading's best player, curled a shot into the top corner from the edge of the box with 20 minutes from time it looked like Albion were staring at a first defeat in the league.

But Ejaria then tripped Filip Krovinovic in the box two minutes from time to give the Baggies a route back into the game.

Bilic made three changes to his line-up, rewarding Grady Diangana and Charlie Austin with their first league starts of the season following their impact off the bench at Kenilworth Road.

Furlong was also handed a league debut at right-back, replacing 18-year-old Nathan Ferguson, and it took no time for the £1.5million summer signing to make an impression.

Less than three minutes in, Furlong should have been awarded a penalty when he was felled by Omar Richards on his way into the box.

But Bankes was unmoved by Albion's appeals and, for some reason, didn't even give a foul.

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Albion came flying out of the blocks, and Romaine Sawyers had slipped Matt Phillips in behind twice in the opening five minutes, but on both occasions his pull-back to Austin ended in a blocked shot.

Reading counterpunched strongly, with John Swift shooting just over from range before testing Sam Johnstone from a free-kick. Ejaria also screwed wide in a breathless start of end-to-end football.

Furlong and Austin looked determined to take their chance in the team, with the right-back whipping several dangerous crosses into Reading's box, and the striker hurtling around with purpose.

But Albion were struggling to test Rafael in the Reading goal, and despite having eight shots in the first half, none needed saving.

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Reading were trying to play out from the back as much as possible but the Baggies were pressing in packs, and managed to steal the ball high up on a couple of occasions.

The Royals themselves were winning possession in midfield, capitalising on some rare sloppy passes from Sawyers.

It meant chances were emerging at both ends. Phillips screwed a shot wide when Diangana's cross came to him at the back post before having another shot blocked after good work by Kyle Bartley and Austin.

Up the other end, the influential Ejaria stung Johnstone's palms from a narrow angle after nearly slipping Puscas in behind with a glorious outside-of-the-boot pass.

The Reading midfielder was enjoying an impressive game but for all their quick passing, the Royals' best chance of the first half came when Michael Morrison shot straight at Johnstone from a corner.

It was the visitors who started the second half brightest, and they might have had their own penalty shout had Puscas gone down over a stray leg from Sawyers, but instead the Romanian striker rode the challenge and shot into the side netting.

Sawyers' difficult night continued, and he earned a booking for tripping Ejaria soon after before Andy Yiadom picked one up for clattering into Filip Krovinovic.

Albion finally forced Rafael into a save, and it came after some determined work up the right flank from Phillips and the impressive Furlong.

After nearly finding him twice, Furlong eventually got to the byline and pulled it back for Austin, whose shot was kicked clear by the Reading keeper.

The Baggies were starting to move through the gears, and they had another penalty shout turned down on the hour mark when Krovinovic went down after a one-two with Diangana. Contact from Swift looked minimal, but the crowd were still incensed when Bankes said no again.

Albion needed to be more direct, but when they were, Diangana blazed a chance over the bar. He was replaced by Matheus Pereira, whose first contribution was to do exactly the same.

Ejaria, however, made no mistake. When Albion stood off Reading's best player he waltzed forward and curled a shot into the top corner that left Johnstone rooted.

Moments later Krovinovic played the ball across Reading's six-yard box after a delightful pass from Pereira, but Austin was nowhere to be seen, and having run out of gas, he was substituted off with 15 minutes to go for Zohore.

The striker immediately had a chance after Sawyers played a one-two with Pereira to drive into the box and squirted the ball across goal, but Zohore's shot was well blocked by Liam Moore, who flung his body in the way.

Sawyers found Zohore again soon after, but this time his first-time shot was straight at Rafael.

Then, two minutes from time, the £8million signing was given his best chance of the night after Ejaria went through the back of Krovinovic.

He held his nerve well, sending Rafael the wrong way to rescue a point and get his campaign up and running.

Based on this performance, Reading will not be in another relegation battle this season, but Albion still need to find more cutting edge in the final third if they're going to challenge for the top spots.

Key moments

03 PENALTY APPEAL - Furlong is brought down by Richards just inside the box but referee Peter Bankes says no.

61 PENALTY APPEAL - Krovinovic goes down in the box but again nothing given.

71 GOAL READING - Ejaria curls in a shot from the edge of the box after Albion stand off him.

88 GOAL ALBION - Zohore scores a penalty after Ejaria brings down Krovinovic.

Albion man of the match

Darnell Furlong - Took his chance at right-back.

Teams

Albion (4-2-3-1) :Johnstone; Furlong, Ajayi, Bartley, Gibbs; Sawyers, Livermore (c) (Edwards 82); Phillips, Krovinovic, Diangana (Pereira 69); Austin (Zohore 75).

Unused subs: Bond, O'Shea, Townsend, Brunt.

Reading (3-5-2): Rafael; Morrison, Miazga, Moore (c); Yiadom, Swift (Adam 84), Ejaria, Pele, Richards; Boye (Joao 66), Puscas (Rinomhota 77).

Unused subs: Virginia, McIntyre, Adam, Loader, Barrett.

Referee: Peter Bankes

Attendance: 21,803 (893 away)

Matt Wilson

By Matt Wilson
Football MMPJ - @mattwilson_star

Sports reporter at the Express & Star, who primarily covers West Bromwich Albion.

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