Hand of Ba denies Reading
Striker's stunning first goal overshadowed by controversial second
Last Updated: 29/09/12 7:48pm
Demba Ba scored a controversial equaliser to deny Reading their first win since returning to the Premier League in a 2-2 draw with Newcastle United.
After a dreadful, goalless first half, the game, which saw Newcastle boss Alan Pardew and his new eight-year contract return to a Reading club where he started his managerial career, exploded into life following the interval in what was a superb second half.
Ba scored a stunning equaliser just seconds after Jimmy Kebe had given Reading the lead but the first-time volley will be overshadowed by the Senegal striker's second goal.
Newcastle's No.19 netted to cancel out Noel Hunt's header with the ball clearly coming off his hand after he missed an attempt to make contact with his forehead.
It did not look intentional but Reading manager Brian McDermott will still feel hard done by as the search for a first victory after five games continues.
The Reading faithful have not forgotten how Pardew, having laid the foundations for the club's current success, resigned as manager in 2003 so he could take charge of West Ham United.
Newcastle took the bold step on Thursday of handing Pardew a contract which runs until 2020.
And each time Reading took the lead, the home support took great delight in warning Newcastle fans: "Eight years for Pardew? You're having a laugh".
Both Reading goals were set up by club captain Jobi McAnuff, who returned to the side after missing the Capital One Cup victory over QPR.
Pardew, whose touchline ban expired on Saturday, gave a first league start to Gael Bigirimana alongside Cheick Tiote in the centre of midfield, with Vurnon Anita dropped to the bench.
Bigirimana immediately looked at home in the centre of midfield, dovetailing nicely with Tiote as Newcastle controlled the middle of the park.
But they could not create anything from that platform with Hatem Ben Arfa a passenger for most of the game while Ba was erratic and Papiss Cisse anonymous.
Ba goals delight Pardew
Reading grew into the game and had the best chance of the first half when Pavel Pogrebnyak's header, after a patient build-up, was palmed over by Steve Harper.
But otherwise there was little to get the fans of either side excited.
It took 24 minutes for the first shot on goal, which fell to the left-back Nicky Shorey and his volley went out for a throw-in, which pretty much summed up the quality of football on show.
Pogrebnyak then found himself a yard of space in the Newcastle box but the ball bounced awkwardly and he shinned it over the bar into the crowd.
Reading worked the ball wide for McAnuff, who curled an inviting cross in for Pogrebnyak to meet above Steven Taylor at the far post but Harper launched himself well to tip his header over the bar.
James Perch was booked for a foul on McAnuff but then provided vital intervention as Pogrebnyak was readying to shoot, after chesting the ball down in the box.
Pogrebnyak continued to cause problems after the restart, getting the better of Taylor to break into the box but his control was poor and Michael Williamson cleared.
McDermott remains upbeat
Cisse's low shot was blocked by Kaspars Gorkss - and suddenly the game awoke from its slumbers with three goals in four minutes.
Kebe put Reading ahead. The Mali winger was played in by McAnuff and ran at Perch, who got himself in a tangle and Kebe scuffed a low shot inside the near post.
Newcastle hit back within seconds and it was no surprise that Tiote was the creator, clipping the ball towards Ba who met it with a spectacular volley on the run.
With barely a chance to draw breath, McAnuff then worked his way to the byline and whipped in a cross which Hunt met with a precise, glancing header to beat Harper at his far post.
The chants aimed at Pardew resumed but they were quietened just six minutes from time in controversial fashion when Ba stooped to meet Shane Ferguson's cross but handled it into the net.Reading upped the ante and Jason Roberts, on as substitute, forced another top save from Harper with a strike from distance and McAnuff saw a shot rebound back off the post.
|Reading||Team Statistics||Newcastle United|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|5||Shots on Target||2|
|9||Shots off Target||4|
|46.7||1st Half Poss.||53.3|
|45.4||2nd Half Poss.||54.6|
Barclays Premier League
Barclays Premier League
|15||West Bromwich Albion||15||15|
|17||West Ham United||15||13|
Reading v Newcastle
Kaspars Gorkss says Reading only have themselves to blame after Newcastle striker Demba Ba's controversial equaliser.
Brian McDermott was frustrated by match officials after Reading drew with Newcastle United.
Alan Pardew confessed Newcastle were lucky to come away with a point after Demba Ba's handled equaliser at Reading.