Hal Robson-Kanu bundled in a dramatic late equaliser for
The drama began while it was 2-1 to Fulham in the 85th minute and Gareth McCleary fired in Reading's equaliser to make it 2-2.
Dimitar Berbatov then appeared to have secured a thrilling triumph for Martin Jol's men by coolly finishing to put them ahead once more – before Reading replied yet again through substitute Robson-Kanu.
Before that late flurry, substitute Bryan Ruiz looked set to be the
match-winner. Ruiz had come on in the 58th minute, when
It was the second Saturday in succession in which Baird scored from a corner but, unlike against Aston Villa, his goal did not prove to be the match winner – as the late drama followed.
Earlier, Reading had led 1-0 at half-time courtesy of Mikele Leigertwood's eye-catching finish.
Mikele Leigertwood's only other Premier League goal came for Crystal Palace back in January 2005 – against another side managed by Martin Jol, Tottenham, in a 3-0 win.
Before the game, much of the spotlight had been on Jason Roberts. The Reading striker stressed before the game that his off-field activities, campaigning for racial equality, would not affect his mindset for the game – and manager Brian McDermott handed the striker his first start of the season.
Pavel Pogrebnyak, his Reading strike partner, was also in the spotlight having snubbed Fulham to join the Berkshire club. His afternoon began terribly as he headed wide a clear chance on the edge of the six-yard box from Nicky Shorey's cross after six minutes.
Reading made the better start but Fulham were lively on the counter-attack and Dimitar Berbatov had the chance to unleash a 25-yard effort that went over. Kieran Richardson later curled a cross for Hugo Rodallega who headed straight at Alex McCarthy.
Jobi McAnuff was looking a threat down the left for Reading and he set up their early lead. McAnuff cut towards the edge of the 18-yard box, evading attempted challenges, then slipped the ball across to the right for Leigertwood, who sent a classy 20-yard shot beyond Mark Schwarzer.
Leigertwood marked the goal with a 'rocking the baby' celebration after his partner recently gave birth.
Fulham pressed for an equaliser before the break but Rodallega produced another tame close-range header from Damien Duff's delivery, then Duff steered wide a Richardson cross.
The home team appeared to have seized back the initiative early in the second half so visiting manager Jol brought on Ruiz for misfiring Rodallega. The substitute made his instant impact by exchanging passes with Duff on the edge of the area and then slotting in confidently to equalise.
Confidence was suddenly surging through Fulham and Berbatov came close to adding a quick second by finding space but his subsequent drive ended up in the side-netting. Baird then had a 30-yard free-kick deflected wide â€“ and he himself scored from the resulting corner, meeting Ruiz's ball in with a firm headed finish.
Then came the late mayhem. Adam Le Fondre crossed for McCleary to score and open the floodgates. Berbatov was next on the scoresheet after striking home from Sidwell's pass â€“ before he was denied the glory as Fulham failed to clear a free-kick by Shorey, allowing Robson-Kanu to take advantage.
Reading (4-4-2): McCarthy; Cummings, Mariappa, Gorkss, Shorey; Kébé
(Robson-Kanu 78), Tabb (McCleary 69), Leigertwood, McAnuff; Roberts,
Pogrebnyak (Le Fondre 80).
Subs: Federici (gk), Gunter, Pearce, Hunt.
Fulham (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Riise; Duff (Dejagah 67), Baird (Sidwell 80), Diarra, Richardson; Berbatov, Rodallega (Ruiz 58).
Subs: Stockdale (gk), Senderos, Petric, Karagounis.