SAM Baldock is hoping his last-gasp penalty at Aston Villa could be the turning point of the season for Reading FC.

Baldock netted an injury-time spot kick at Villa Park on Saturday to salvage a draw for Paul Clement’s men with his first goal in a blue and white shirt.

Royals’ luck appeared to be out when Villa keeper Orjan Nyland made a sensational, double save to deny Baldock and Yakou Meite moments earlier.

But Reading’s patience was rewarded when James Chester fouled new-boy Josh Sims before Baldock kept his nerve by firing the penalty past Nyland for a 91st-minute equaliser.

Boss Paul Clement felt a draw was no more than Reading deserved, having seen skipper Paul McShane give away two, second-half penalties in last week’s 2-2 draw at Blackburn, the second of which was highly dubious.

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Sam Baldock celebrates after netting his first goal for Royals with a dramatic penalty against Aston Villa.

And Baldock feels Royals’ fortunes could be about to change as they seek to kick-start their season.

“It’s a big point for us, it was a very tough game,” said the summer signing from Brighton.

“We’re very pleased to come out with a point. I thought it might have come a little bit earlier but the keeper made a wonder save.

“We’ve not had a lot of luck recently in the games, but I’m hoping that was a turning point.”

Ahmed Elmohamady gave Villa gave Villa the lead in the 51st minute, but Royals finished strongly, with Nyland tipping Baldock’s close-range effort onto the bar then saving Meite’s follow-up.

Yet Royals salvaged a draw from the jaws of defeat thanks to Baldock’s penalty at the death.

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Ahmed Elmohamady had put Villa in front early in the second half on Saturday.

He added: “This sort of fixture is always one that you look forward to. You always know that it’s going to be a big crowd, but I think our fans turned up in numbers as well and really got behind us.

“One thing that has been asked of us over the past few weeks is character. I think we showed that.

“We didn’t give up and we never stopped believing. Even when the chances did come and go, we kept going right until the end.”

Reading remain without a win in the league and are 23rd in the Championship table as they turn their attention to the Carabao Cup.

Right-back Chris Gunter could make his comeback from injury in tomorrow night’s second-round clash against Watford at Madejski Stadium (8pm ko).