Barnsley and Reading remain in the Championship play-off places after sharing the spoils in a dramatic clash at Oakwell.
Veljko Paunovic’s side led at the break with a fine goal finished by Ovie Ejaria, but were pegged back on the hour mark when Alex Mowatt converted from a penalty after a foul by Andy Yiadom.
Both sides could have won it, with Lucas Joao extraordinarily missing a gaping own goal, before Mads Andersen hit the post and Michal Helik had a late effort controversially ruled out for Barnsley, who remain two points ahead of their opponents in fifth.
Story of the match
Barnsley, two points ahead of their opponents going into the match, made the more offensive start, but the early storm amounted to no better chances than two optimistic efforts from skipper Mowatt, and Reading soon found the confidence to start playing their game.
They should have taken the lead when a mistake by Andersen allowed Yakou Meite in on goal. The Danish defender lost the ball under his foot as he attempted a simple interception, but Meite could not add to his goals in each of his last three games as he badly bent his shot over the bar.
Reading kept on the front foot though, maintaining the pressure and seeing Joao miss a gilt-edged chance of his own. A Michael Olise corner was flicked on by Michael Morrison for their top scorer in the centre of the box, but he also got under the ball too much and saw it fly high.
Morrison was also busy at the other end blocking a Dominik Frieser effort, while defender Helik glanced a header straight at goalkeeper Rafael, but a goal looked more likely to come from the visitors and it did soon after.
It was a wonderful goal too, with the quality of Andy Rinomhota’s long pass to find the run of Ejaria bettered only by the first touch that followed, as the midfielder left the Barnsley backline behind and pushed through on goal before confidently finishing beneath Brad Collins with the next touch.
The opener prompted a stronger Barnsley spell before the break. Everyone on the pitch was a spectator when Callum Brittain’s cross from the touchline veered towards goal and bounced off the top of the crossbar, while the wing-back also had a thundering volley blocked by Liam Moore, who also denied Cauley Woodrow.
Reading lost Morrison to injury just before the interval while Valerien Ismael chose to make two half-time changes, introducing Daryl Dike and Carlton Morris to give Barnsley’s attack a sharper edge. It slowly turned the course of the game in their favour, though highly contentious officiating was required to bring them level.
After a period of bombardment on the Reading box, Yiadom brought Callum Styles down in clearing the latest ball and referee Geoff Eltringham awarded the penalty, with Mowatt taking the chance from the spot by hammering the penalty down the middle and just under the goalkeeper’s legs.
But Barnsley almost threw it away soon. Styles was heavily involved again, playing a pass back to his goalkeeper Collins forgetting that Meite was lurking in behind having been beaten to a ball moments earlier. Collins realised in time to make a sliding challenge but that only gave the ball to Joao with an open goal, yet the Portuguese somehow managed to miss the gaping goal entirely.
Tempers had been fraying between the bosses on the touchline, and the drama on the pitch continued to escalate as well. Rafael was the latest player to be red-faced after failing to clear a delivery, the goalkeeper then helpless on the floor as Andersen prodded an effort against the inside of the post with Moore then on the line to clear.
Barnsley were looking more likely to find a winner in the closing stages with Styles blasting over, Rafael keeping out a strike by Morris, and fellow sub Aapo Halme heading a Mowatt corner the wrong side of the bar. There was also time for a final moment of controversy, as Helik squeezed in a Mowatt corner at the near post only for a foul to be awarded in favour of the stumbling Rafael.
Man of the match: Liam Moore (Reading)
The skipper was a colossal presence at the back for the visitors, helping deal with much of the Barnsley bombardment and making some crucial blocks and clearances.