Demba Ba scored twice to rescue a point for Newcastle and deny Reading their first Premier League win of the season.
In a match that only came to life just before the hour mark, Jimmy Kebe tucked in Jobi McAnuff's threaded pass.
Ba equalised in the same minute when he volleyed in Cheick Tiote's lofted ball.
Reading took charge once again minutes later thanks to Noel Hunt's glancing header but Ba then pounced for his sixth goal in six games - although there was a suspicion of handball.
Replays showed that his strike, seven minutes from the end, came off his arm following Shane Ferguson's left-wing cross, and Reading's players were quick to protest to referee Andre Marriner.
The hosts were also left frustrated as McAnuff hit the post late on with a curling strike, while Steve Harper saved Jason Roberts' effort.
A draw for the newly-promoted side might look like a decent result against a strong Newcastle team, and the point moves them off the bottom of the Premier League table.
However, Brian McDermott may look back at this game as a missed opportunity given the lethargy on show from the visitors for large parts of the game.
It continued a mixed start to the season for Alan Pardew's side, but once again they were saved by some incisive finishing from one of their star strikers, who has now scored 22 goals in 40 Premier League games for the Magpies.
- Demba Ba has scored 22 goals in the Premier League since the start of last season, only three players (Sergio Aguero, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie) have scored more.
Having declared that the sole remit of his new eight-year contract was to win every week, Pardew might have cause for concern after this encounter and certainly would have been less than impressed by his team's slow start.
Without the guile of the ill Yohan Cabaye in midfield, the visitors struggled to retain the ball and it was not until Reading eked out the first real chance of the game on the half hour that they responded.
By that stage McDermott's side looked the more fluent of the two teams and, when Pavel Pogrebnyak headed McAnuff's cross towards the top corner, Harper did well to tip it over with his left hand.
On Pardew's return to his former club, and having given McDermott his first job at Reading, there was more than a feel of a friendly fixture.
That soon changed just before the hour mark when, in complete contrast to the previous inaction, three goals arrived in less than five minutes.
And it coincided with a reshuffle in the Newcastle defence as Steven Taylor was replaced by James Tavernier.
Reading skipper McAnuff was the creator on both occasions for Reading as he found the onrushing Kebe, who, on his first Premier League start of the season, cut inside to receive the ball and squeezed his shot inside the near post.
Amazingly, the lead lasted less than a minute as Ba continued his superb scoring run by expertly taking Tiote's incisive pass to volley in from the edge of the area.
The goal flurry continued when McAnuff crossed from the left to find Hunt with a glancing header.
At last, Reading settled and it looked like they might hold on for victory, but Ba's controversial goal made it all square again and keeps the Royals in the bottom three.
Reading boss Brian McDermott : "I'm absolutely gutted because we deserved to win the game. When you see [Demba Ba's second goal] back [the officials] have made a massive error. It was going away from goal and the scorer has handballed it into the net. It's a blatant error.
"We played fantastically today, that is the identity of our team and we played on the front and even at 2-2 we had chances and I think Alan Pardew would have been pleased with the point."
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew: "We are struggling for rhythm this year, and are not playing with the same exuberance as last year and today was a sign of that. We can't rely on spirit all the time.
"No mistake, [Demba Ba's second goal] hit his hand. Shane Ferguson put the ball in a great area, and it hit Demba's head and hit his hand but it's about the delivery of the ball. Reading gave us a going over today, I have no worries about them staying in this division."
- 21 McCarthy
- 03 Shorey
- 06 Mariappa
- 17 Gorkss
- 24 Cummings
- 04 Karacan
- 08 Leigertwood
- 11 McAnuff
- 14 Kebe (McCleary - 70' )
- 07 Pogrebniak (Roberts - 77' )
- 10 Hunt (Le Fondre - 86' )
- 41 Taylor
- 05 Pearce
- 19 Robson-Kanu
- 20 Guthrie
- 09 Le Fondre
- 12 McCleary
- 33 Roberts
- 37 Harper
- 03 Santon
- 06 Williamson Booked
- 14 Perch Booked
- 27 S Taylor (Tavernier - 56' )
- 10 Ben Arfa
- 18 Gutierrez Booked
- 20 Bigirimana (Ferguson - 70' )
- 24 Tiote
- 09 Cisse (Sh Ameobi - 69' )
- 19 Ba
- 21 Elliot
- 31 Ferguson
- 34 Tavernier
- 08 Anita
- 25 Obertan
- 23 Sh Ameobi
- 28 Sa Ameobi
Live Text Commentary
Adrian Mariappa gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Shola Ameobi. Cheick Tiote crosses the ball from the free kick right-footed from left channel, Jem Karacan manages to make a clearance.90:00 +2:38
Hatem Ben Arfa produces a cross, save made by Alex McCarthy.90:00 +0:54
Demba Ba produces a right-footed shot from just outside the area that goes harmlessly over the target.90:00 +0:36
Jobi McAnuff produces a curled right-footed shot from just outside the penalty area that bounces off the post.88:36
Jason Roberts takes a shot. Blocked by Mike Williamson.88:20
Jobi McAnuff takes a shot. Blocked by Davide Santon.88:05
Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Nicky Shorey, Header from deep inside the area by Mikele Leigertwood goes over the bar.87:31
Jason Roberts takes a shot. Save made by Steve Harper.86:16
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Demba Ba by Kaspars Gorkss. Direct free kick taken by Cheick Tiote.85:31 Substitution
Substitution (Reading) makes a substitution, with Adam Le Fondre coming on for Noel Hunt.85:02
Shot by Hatem Ben Arfa from a long way out goes over the net.84:26
Hatem Ben Arfa gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jobi McAnuff. Direct free kick taken by Nicky Shorey.82:15
Assist by Shane Ferguson.82:15 Goal scored
Goal! - Demba Ba - Reading 2 - 2 Newcastle Demba Ba finds the back of the net with a headed goal from inside the six-yard box. Reading 2-2 Newcastle.81:16
Foul by Jem Karacan on Jonas Gutierrez, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by James Perch.80:52
Hatem Ben Arfa takes a shot. Adrian Mariappa gets a block in.79:38 Full time
Full Time The final whistle is blown by the referee.78:33
Free kick awarded for a foul by Cheick Tiote on Jobi McAnuff. Direct free kick taken by Kaspars Gorkss.77:50
Demba Ba is caught offside. Free kick taken by Alex McCarthy.76:53 Substitution
Substitution Jason Roberts replaces Pavel Pogrebnyak.
Jonas Gutierrez takes a short corner.74:47
Foul by Shola Ameobi on Kaspars Gorkss, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Alex McCarthy.74:15
Mikele Leigertwood takes a shot from just outside the penalty area clears the crossbar.73:07
Free kick awarded for a foul by Cheick Tiote on Jobi McAnuff. Free kick taken by Nicky Shorey. Header from deep inside the penalty area by Kaspars Gorkss goes harmlessly over the crossbar.72:20 Booking
Booking Jonas Gutierrez goes into the book for unsporting behaviour.68:58
Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Hatem Ben Arfa, Nicky Shorey manages to make a clearance.68:58 Substitution
Substitution Garath McCleary replaces Jimmy Kebe.68:58 Substitution
Substitution Shane Ferguson comes on in place of Gael Bigirimana.68:58 Substitution
Substitution Papiss Cisse leaves the field to be replaced by Shola Ameobi.61:01
Jobi McAnuff provided the assist for the goal.61:01 Goal scored
Goal! - Noel Hunt - Reading 2 - 1 Newcastle Noel Hunt scores a headed goal from inside the penalty box. Reading 2-1 Newcastle.57:58
Assist by Cheick Tiote.57:58 Goal scored
Goal! - Demba Ba - Reading 1 - 1 Newcastle Demba Ba finds the back of the net with a goal from deep inside the penalty box low into the middle of the goal. Reading 1-1 Newcastle.57:01
Assist by Jobi McAnuff.57:01 Goal scored
Goal! - Jimmy Kebe - Reading 1 - 0 Newcastle Jimmy Kebe fires in a goal from the edge of the penalty box to the bottom left corner of the goal. Reading 1-0 Newcastle.55:09 Substitution
Substitution James Tavernier comes on in place of Steven Taylor.51:32 Booking
Booking Mike Williamson is given a yellow card.49:42
Nicky Shorey takes a inswinging corner.45:01
The second half begins.45:00 +31:06 Half time
Half Time The whistle is blown to end the first half.45:00 +0:22
Mikele Leigertwood produces a cross, save by Steve Harper.43:48
Nicky Shorey crosses the ball from the free kick left-footed from left wing.43:48 Booking
Booking Caution for James Perch.43:40
Jobi McAnuff fouled by James Perch, the ref awards a free kick.42:29
Centre by Shaun Cummings, clearance by Mike Williamson. Corner taken left-footed by Nicky Shorey from the right by-line, Steve Harper makes a comfortable save.41:20
Shot from just outside the area by Papiss Cisse misses to the right of the target.39:54
A cross is delivered by Davide Santon.39:20
Mikele Leigertwood concedes a free kick for a foul on Cheick Tiote. Cheick Tiote takes the direct free kick.37:44
Shaun Cummings fouled by Cheick Tiote, the ref awards a free kick. Nicky Shorey delivers the ball from the free kick left-footed from right channel, Davide Santon makes a clearance.36:23
Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Gael Bigirimana from the right by-line, Alex McCarthy makes a save.34:52
Shot from just outside the box by Jonas Gutierrez goes over the bar.31:05
Jem Karacan takes a shot from just outside the penalty area which clears the crossbar.30:16
Free kick awarded for a foul by James Perch on Noel Hunt. Free kick taken by Nicky Shorey.29:08
Pavel Pogrebnyak takes a shot. Save by Steve Harper. Corner taken left-footed by Nicky Shorey from the right by-line, save by Steve Harper.27:14
Cheick Tiote takes a shot. Adrian Mariappa gets a block in.26:20
Free kick awarded for a foul by Pavel Pogrebnyak on Steven Taylor. Direct free kick taken by Steven Taylor.24:10
Pavel Pogrebnyak produces a left-footed shot from just outside the penalty box that misses to the left of the goal.23:37
Nicky Shorey takes a shot from 20 yards.23:03
Noel Hunt takes a shot. Save by Steve Harper.21:51
Mike Williamson gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Noel Hunt. Nicky Shorey restarts play with the free kick.21:08
The referee blows for offside. Steve Harper restarts play with the free kick.19:24
Jobi McAnuff gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Hatem Ben Arfa. Hatem Ben Arfa crosses the ball in from the free kick, Adrian Mariappa makes a clearance.19:16
Centre by Jonas Gutierrez, clearance by Adrian Mariappa.18:47
Centre by Jimmy Kebe, clearance made by Cheick Tiote.18:07
Corner from the left by-line taken by Nicky Shorey, clearance by Mike Williamson.15:16
Jonas Gutierrez crosses the ball, comfortable save by Alex McCarthy.13:03
The offside flag is raised against Noel Hunt. Free kick taken by Steve Harper.10:22
Demba Ba crosses the ball.3:49
Corner taken by Nicky Shorey, save by Steve Harper.0:00
The referee gets the game started.
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