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Cairney rescues Fulham in play-off draw

Cairney rescues Fulham in play-off draw

He said:"I'm an optimist, I believe in my players and they believe in themselves and they've shown in the first leg that they play with confidence".

The Royals may now be favourites to progress to Wembley after escaping back to Berkshire with a 1-1 draw at Craven Cottage.

But Jaap Stam, the Reading manager, was confident that the loss of his captain and central defender will not turn the tie.

Reading are 90 minutes from Wembley, 180 minutes from the Premier League. Reading's game plan had worked out perfectly: stifle Fulham's free flowing style of play, sit back, and hit them on the counter.

McShane was shown a red card for an bad challenge on Kevin McDonald with 10 minutes left, but Fulham couldn't find a priceless second goal.

It was Reading, however, who went ahead early in the first half, as Jordan Obita fired past Marcus Bettinelli from a almost impossible angle, smashing the inside of the far post for 1-0 in the 53rd minute.

Reading's goal was perhaps a touch fortunate when an apparent foul by Paul McShane on Stefan Johansen went unpunished but the impressive Jordan Obita was on hand to finish as the space opened up for the visitors.

The first leg provided a much-needed reality check for Fulham, revealing that the Play-Offs would not be as much of a breeze as many had thought.

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"Fulham are a very talented team and even though we have home advantage is doesn't guarantee anything".

Obita wasn't closed down quickly enough by Ryan Fredericks and drilled a low drive in off the far post.

Reading's players have vowed to win promotion to the Premier League for suspended skipper Paul McShane.

There was an immediate response from Fulham and they were level in the 65th minute. "I've seen plenty today to say we can still do it".

Yet goalkeeper Al-Habsi, voted the club's Player of the Season for the second successive year, hopes that his side can reach the promised land to make McShane's return to the side in August a pleasant one.

Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic: "We can't be completely satisfied".

"They need to score, we need to score, so it's going to be a very interesting game between two sides battling against each other".

"I'm not scared about the situation, that's football and yes there's potential for a penalty shoot-out, but there's one game in front of us and that's all". "We will push hard on Tuesday night and I expect something similar".

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