YANN Kermorgant came off the bench to rescue a draw for Reading FC in a relegation six-pointer against Sunderland.

The French striker notched only his second goal of the season with a vital 80th minute header at a sun-drenched Madejski Stadium.

It looked as though Black Cats would come from behind to win for the first time all season after second-half goals from Paddy McNair and Lee Cattermole cancelled out Liam  Kelly’s 20th minute penalty.

But Paul Clement’s Royals refused to give in as they snatched a vital point in the battle for Championship survival.

Reading remain 19th in the table and five points ahead of Barnsley, who have a game in hand.

Sunderland, however, slipped to the bottom of the table and are six points from safety with three more matches to play.

Clement made one change from the side that lost at Fulham on Tuesday.

John Swift returned in replace of Leando Bacuna who started his three-match ban for his red card at Craven Cottage.

Reading Chronicle:

Liam Kelly fires a penalty past Lee Camp to put Reading in front.

It was nip and tuck from the first whistle as Reading were forced to defend a couple of corners before George Honeyman’s cross deflected into the grateful arms of home keeper Vito Mannone in the eighth minute.

Then five minutes later Callum McManaman dragged an effort wide from the edge of the Reading box after a slick move from Coleman’s side.

Mannone also had to be alert when racing out of his area to clear the ball before Fletcher could get on the end of a long pass.

But Reading regrouped and broke the deadlock in the 20th minute.

They worked their way into the Sunderland box where a deft Kelly pass found its way to Aluko.

The winger’s shot on the turn was spilled by Camp who then brought Bodvarsson down after Royals striker had pounced on the loose ball.

Kelly made no mistake by hammering the spot-kick past an embarrassed Camp for a 1-0 lead.

Royals almost snatched a second two minutes through Kelly again, this time the midfielder’s rasping drive from 25 yards forcing an excellent save from Camp.

But that was the start of a strong fightback from the Black Cats.

They nearly levelled in the 23rd minute when Ashley Fletcher’s angled shot rebounded off the far post to McManaman, whose follow-up was superbly headed off the line by the alert Liam Moore.

Then four minutes later Mannone made a crucial double-save to deny Aiden McGeady twice following a scramble in the Reading goalmouth.

Reading Chronicle:

Jon Dadi Bodvarsson launches a Reading attack against Sunderland.

McGeady was appealing for a penalty of his own on the half-hour mark after colliding with Omar Richards, but referee Stephen Martin waved play on.

McManaman failed to punish a Richards slip by blazing over from a tight angle five minutes before the break, then McGeady’s effort from a similar position deflected over on the stroke of half time.

But Reading’s lead was wiped out less than two minutes after the restart through all their own making.

Edwards got himself into a tangle before gifting possession to McNair who took a couple of touches before slamming a 25-yarder past Mannone and into the top corner.

But Coleman’s men had not come for the draw and continued to pile on the pressure.

However, they wasted a gilt-edged chance in the 58th minute when Lee Cattermole headed over from six yards from McGeady’s cross.

Royals hit back only to see Sone Aluko miss the target from a tight angle after Swift had put him through.

But Sunderland fans were on their feet in the 67th minute after watching their side take the lead for the first time in the match.

Clement’s men gave a free-kick away down the left, McGeady swung in a dangerous ball and Cattermole’s glancing header beat Mannone and nestled into the far corner.

The hosts looked stunned, and they almost conceded a third in the 78th minute when it needed a vital block from Tiago Ilori to deny Fletcher from point-blank range.

But Clement’s men kept fighting and equalised two minutes later.

Gunter found space down the right and whipped over an excellent cross which Kermorgant headed back across a lethargic Camp and into the opposite corner for his second of the season.

There was more drama to come as both sides frantically searched for a late winner.

Clement’s men had three decent chances in the 90th minute when Aluko’s shot was bloked before Kermorgant chipped the rebound tamely into Camp’s arms.

Then moments later Camp flung himself to his left to stop Kermorgant’s shot from rippling the Sunderland net.

But there was no keeping Coleman’s side side as McNair’s shot deflected before from a corner from which Joel Asoro’s effort clipped off Moore and went over Mannone’s bar.

Reading FC: Mannone, Gunter (c), Richards (Blackett 65), Moore, Ilori, Swift, Edwards, Kelly (Kermorgant 71), Aluko, Barrow, Bodvarsson. Subs not used: Jaakkola, Van den Berg, Clement, Martin, Rinomhota. Booked: Swift 85.

Sunderland: Camp, Love, Kone, Wilson, Oviedo (Clarke-Salter 48), McManaman (Asoro 75), Cattermole, McNair, Honeyman (Maja 81), McGeady, Fletcher. Subs not used: Stryjek, LuaLua, Robson, Ejaria. Booked: Love 90.

Referee: Stephen Martin.

Attendance: 17,348 (Sunderland 1,412).