READING FC were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw in a high-tempo clash with Nottingham Forest at Select Car Leasing stadium.

In a game of two very different halves, Royals looked gutless as they went behind after just three minutes thanks to a Philip Zinckernagel strike.

However, the home side raised their game in the second period and deservedly got themselves level through Scott Dann.

In truth, they probably should have made their momentum count after dominating much of the half but they lacked that killer instinct in front of goal.

Reading were desperate to get back to on-field matters after the EFL confirmed the club has been docked six points earlier in the week for breaching financial restrictions.

Veljko Paunovic made one change to the starting XI which beat Birmingham City 2-1 in their last outing with fit-again Danny Drinkwater replacing Tom Dele-Bashiru.

But all eyes were on the bench with new signing Andy Carroll was named in the matchday squad just days after penning a two-month deal at Select Car Leasing Stadium.

Forest Head Coach Steve Cooper also made just the one change to his starting XI which thumped Preston North End 3-0 before the international break.

Reading looked shell-shocked as the visitors took an early lead through Philip Zinckernagel. The midfielder sliced through Royals’ back line before blasting the ball low and hard into the bottom corner.

The home side thought they had equalised moments later when Andy Yiadom burst beyond the Forest defence and cleverly picking out an unmarked Danny Drinkwater. 

The Chelsea loanee’s effort looked destined for the back of the net before being blocked by Brice Samba and ricocheting around the penalty area.

Cooper’s Forest continued to dominate play throughout the opening quarter as Royals struggled to get a foothold in the game. 

They nearly gifted the visitors a second when Scott Dann handed possession straight to Lewis Grabban but the veteran forward could not quite get the ball out of his feet.

Drinkwater was in the thick of the action with 31 minutes played as he won the ball back twice in the middle of the park before setting Royals away on the left-wing.

Ovie Ejaria picked out Baba Rahman who unleashed a swerving strike towards the bottom corner which was well dealt with by Samba.

George Puscas, who has not scored a competitive goal for more than 200 days, had a golden chance to break his hoodoo with 38 minutes on the clock.

A fortuitous rebound landed straight in the Romanian forward’s path and he had either side of the net to pick but instead fired his shot straight at the on-rushing Samba.

Forest almost started the second half in similar fashion to the first when Grabban’s strike was cleared off of the line by Liam Moore.

Grabban, who spent a short period at Select Car Leasing Stadium under Jaap Stam, left Scott Dann in his wake and stroked the ball past Southwood but skipper Moore was there to deny him.

After a toothless first 45 minutes, the Royals did find some attacking momentum and could have equalised the 55 minutes played.

Puscas picked the ball up on the edge of the area and had time to pick his spot but his effort curled wide of Samba’s post.

Paunovic injected more firepower into his side by introducing Carroll with an hour played. The towering forward had an immediate impact too as Royals drew level just moments after his introduction.

A corner from the right was aimed at the ex-Newcastle forward who held off his man well, allowing the ball to fall kindly into Scott Dann’s path.

The 34-year-old had the simplest of tasks as he stroked the ball into the back of a gaping net to make the scores 1-1.

Reading were in the ascendancy after Carroll’s introduction and looked certain to take the lead. However, they were nearly pegged back on 75 minutes when Grabban rounded the goalkeeper before firing into the side netting.

Puscas then bundled his way into the box before laying the ball off to Rahman who could only shoot straight across goal and out for a throw-in on the right.

Forest stepped up their momentum in the closing stages and pegged Royals deep into their own half before Southwood made a smart, diving save to keep the score line level.

Reading welcome Sheffield United to Select Car Leasing Stadium on Tuesday night (8pm KO).

Reading FC: Southwood, Yiadom, Holmes, Dann, Moore (Carroll, 60), Rahman, Drinkwater (Dele-Bashiru, 72), Laurent, Ejaria, Swift, Puscas.
Subs not used: Rafael, Abrefa, Camara, Ehibhatiomhan, Ashcroft.