MO Barrow’s last-minute winner kept Reading FC out of the relegation zone and put another dent in Ipswich Town’s survival chances.

With Rotherham beating Blackburn, Royals were heading into the bottom three when Nelson Oliveira’s 19th-minute opener was cancelled out by Gwion Edwards seven minutes from time.

But Barrow’s cool finish in the 90th minute secured a first away win in 14 attempts and a first under Jose Gomes and leave Town stranded at the bottom.

However, concerns surround Oliveira as the on-loan Norwich City striker limped off in the second-half clutching his hamstring having scored against his East Anglian rivals.

Reading Chronicle:

Mo Barrow slides the bal past Bartosz Bialkowski for Reading's winner at Portman Road.

Even so, the celebrations from the 1,500 travelling fans at the final whistle summed up the massive relief for the visitors.

They had seen their side throw away crucial wins in recent relegation six-pointers against Bolton and Rotherham, and it looked like a similar tale of woe again.

Yet frustration quickly turned into celebration with Barrow’s winner from the bench.

Gomes – with Royals winless on the road since beating Preston mid-September – kept faith with the same starting XI from the 1-1 home draw with Rotherham last weekend.

John Swift slotted in behind Oliveira with Yakou Meite and Garath McCleary the wide men and Lewis Baker and Ovie Ejaria sitting in front of a back four.

Reading Chronicle:

Mo Barrow wheels away in celebration.

Meanwhile, Lambert – watching from the stands due to suspension – made two changes to his side from their 1-1 draw at Wigan with James Collins and Teddy Bishop replacing Jonas Knudsen (suspended) and Will Keane (injured).

Royals settled quickly and were soon asking questions of the home team’s defence, with Meite going close from the edge of the box.

Trevor Chalobah had a go from similar range at the other end only to sky one into the stand behind.

Referee Geoff Eltringham – a surprise appointment following the Tyrone Mings incident at Madejski Stadium – then dished out two quick yellow cards to Reading’s Tyler Blackett for handball and Oliveira for simulation, the latter drawing amazement from the Portuguese.

But Royals fans were soon on their feet when Oliveira gave them the lead with his third goal in six games.

Reading Chronicle:

Nelson Oliveira fires Reading into the lead against Ipswich.

Blackett’s delightful pass over a sluggish Luke Chambers allowed McCleary to drive into the box before setting up Oliveira, who showed Bartosz Bialkowski the eyes as he bent the ball into the far corner.

Royals were ahead against Rotherham before conceding a late equaliser and missing a glut of chances. This time Gomes’ men looked to build on their advantage as Swift shot narrowly wide from long range after smart work by Oliveira.

McCleary saw a shot blocked inside the Ipswich area and Oliveira also missed the target, all before the half-hour mark.

Meite then aimed an overhead kick straight at Bialkowski after Swift nodded a cross back across goal, while Alan Judge failed to test Emi Martinez from a decent chance at the other end.

However, Royals were the more dangerous side and they almost grabbed a second after going route one as Martinez landed a precise kick into McCleary’s path, but the winger slid the ball wide of Bialkowski’s far post from a difficult angle.

Martinez made his first meaningful save of the game four minutes before the break. Oliveira lost possession in the centre circle allowing Collin Quaner to set up Judge, whose shot was held by the Reading keeper.

And two minutes later the on-loan Arsenal stopper pulled off a sensational save at the back post to somehow deny Nolan from no more than six yards.

There was still time for Swift to almost snatch an unlikely second when he nearly scored directly from a corner, but for a desperate intervention from Bialkowski.


Reading went into the break with a vital lead – but with three players including two defenders in the referee’s book after Moore had also taken one for the team on 38 minutes.

Ipswich had problems of their own after James Collins limped off with an injury before Lambert used up all his substitutions by sending on Cole Skuse and Edwards for James Bree and Teddy Bishop at half time.

It was effectively Lambert’s last throw of the dice, and his side were quickly on the front foot and almost levelled on 55 minutes.

Martinez could only parry a Judge stinger into the air and the same Town player went down in the box under Moore’s challenge as he chased the loose ball, but Eltringham waved the strong penalty claims away.

Reading Chronicle:

Nelson Oliveira silences the home fans.

Another blow for Royals followed three minutes later when Oliveira walked off clutching his hamstring to be replaced by Barrow.

They remained on the back foot and were grateful when Skuse’s volley dipped inches over the bar on the hour, though Martinez appeared to hurt his ankle as he watched it sail past.

He was soon back on his feet to spare Andy Yiadom’s blushes by plucking his header out of the top corner to prevent a calamitous own goal.

But just as Gomes’ men looked to have ridden the storm, they were pegged back in the closing stages yet again.

On this occasion the defence switched off as Quaner’s cross to the back post was neatly tucked away by Edwards from close range.

With Rotherham winning comfortably against Blackburn, Reading had slipped into the bottom three at that stage.

Swift led the fightback but couldn’t find the target, neither could Judge at the other end from a free-kick for the hosts.

But there was one more twist to come as Reading regained the lead in the 90th minute.

Meite’s pass found its way to Barrow who sped clear before knocking the ball past Bialkowski and celebrating in front of the delirious Reading fans.

Those same supporters were put through the shredder during stoppage time as Martinez made another superb save to deny Matthew Pennington.

And from the corner Chambers somehow headed wide from close range from Aristote Nsiala’s nod-back.

But Royals survived for critical victory that keeps them out of the relegation zone – only just.

They remain above Rotherham on goal difference, but have closed the gap on Millwall above to one point following their 3-1 home defeat to leaders Norwich.

Next up is an equally important six-pointer next Saturday against Wigan, who are just three points above in 19th after a 0-0 draw with Middlesbrough today.

Ipswich Town: Bialkowski, Chambers, Collins (Nsiala 40), Pennington, Bree (Skuse 46), Judge, Chalobah, Nolan, Kenlock, Bishop (Edwards 46), Quaner. Subs not used: Gerken, Jackson, Downes, Dozzell. Booked: Nsiala 57, Nolan 65, Edwards 85.

Reading FC: Martinez, Yiadom, Miazga, Moore, Blackett, Ejaria (Loader 89), Baker, Meite, Swift, McCleary (Harriott 81), Oliveira (Barrow 58). Subs not used: Walker, Gunter, O'Shea, McShane. Booked: Blackett 12, Oliveira 13, Moore 37, Barrow 90+1.

Referee: Geoff Eltringham.

Attendance: 23,009 (Reading 1,495).