0-1, min. 53, Obita. 1-1, min. 65, Cairney.
Fulham 1-1 Reading: Cairney sends Cottagers into play-off semi-final second-leg on level terms

Fulham 1-1 Reading: Cairney sends Cottagers into play-off semi-final second-leg on level terms

Fulham came back from behind to draw 1-1 against Reading in The Championship on Saturday evening courtesy of Tom Cairney after Jordan Obita had given Reading the lead.

samstraw
Sam Straw

Fulham came back from behind to draw 1-1 with Reading in their Championship play-off semi-final first leg at Craven Cottage on Saturday evening. 

Jordan Obita put Reading in front early on in the second-half but Tom Cairney responded for the home side shortly after to set up the second leg on Tuesday at the Madejski Stadium nicely with the outcome very much still in the balance.

Two in-form teams 

Both Fulham and Reading were viewed as the most in-form teams coming into the Championship play-offs. Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic decided to make three changes to his line-up with Ryan Fredericks, Stefan Johansen and Floyd Ayite all coming back in. 

In comparison, Jaap Stam was able to start Paul McShane for the second game in a row following his recent return from injury. He also opted to go with both Lewis Grabban and Yann Kermorgrant upfront. 

A nervy start with so much at stake

It was a nervy start to the game as both teams struggled to get a foothold. Reading's possession style of play was already creating early frustrations within the home crowd. 

Cairney has been a stand-out performer for the Cottagers this season and he almost gave them the lead 10 minutes in. He was given too much space on the edge of the area, before he curled his effort just wide of the post with Ali Al-Habsi beaten. 

Both teams cancelled each other out in the first-half. (picture: Getty Images / Harry Hubbard)
Both teams cancelled each other out in the first-half. (picture: Getty Images / Harry Hubbard)

As the home side continued to look to get themselves in front in the early stages of the game, Sone Aluko was next to miss a big opportunity as he scuffed his shot wide from inside the area. 

Ayite found himself with space on the left-hand side shortly before half-time but opted to shoot over the bar rather than cross to the dismay of his team mates. This meant that the two teams went into the break with neither being able to muster a shot on target.

An eventful second-half at Craven Cottage

The second-half began very similarly to how the first was played out. Fulham continued to be frustrated by the Royals' resilience much to the delight of their manager in the dugout. 

It got even better for the away side in the 53rd minute as Obita put Reading 1-0 ahead. The home side were unhappy with referee Stuart Attwell as Johansen appeared to have been fouled in the build-up but play continued before Obita fired his team in front with a low shot which cannoned in off the post.

Jordan Obita gave the away side the lead early in the second-half. (picture: Getty Images / Harry Hubbard)
Jordan Obita gave the away side the lead early on in the second-half. (picture: Getty Images / Harry Hubbard)

The opening goal caused the game to burst into life with the tempo being increased by the home side. They were rewarded for their fantastic response to going behind as Cairney made it 1-1 in the 65th minute. Scott Malone's cross was palmed out by Al-Habsi straight to Cairney who made no mistake with his header from close range.

It was Fulham who looked the more likely to get themselves ahead in the latter stages. They were boosted with around 10 minutes to go as Reading defender McShane was sent-off for a horrific tackle on Kevin McDonald

The home side piled the pressure on late on to try and take advantage of their extra man. However, they were unable to find the elusive second goal as both sides will go into Tuesday's second leg at the Madejski Stadium all square.

Reading with the home advantage

It will be Stam who will be the happier of the two managers with this result ahead of Tuesday's second leg. The Royals have already beaten Fulham at home this season by a 1-0 scoreline and they will fancy their chances of getting the win again and securing their place at Wembley.

However, Fulham will still head into the second-leg full of optimism with their impressive away form. Recent results away from home include a 4-1 win at Huddersfield Town which will give the Cottagers hope that they can still get the job done.

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