Reading 2 (Le Fondre 83, 89)
Two late goals from substitute Adam Le Fondre gave Reading what felt like a huge three points at home to ten-man Leeds United.
Leeds had frustrated the Royals for 83 minutes, and had a man sent off inside the first 11 minutes, then Danny Pugh could well have seen red inside the first half as well.
Reading were by far the dominant force against a dogged and physical Leeds side, although they did have Adam Federici
to thank for a vital save not long before Le Fondre's opener.
Anything other than a Reading win would have been a huge injustice - but Brian McDermott's men still had to dig incredibly deep to go top of the League come the final whistle in front of a packed Madejski Stadium.
Reading (4-4-2): Federici; Cummings, Harte, Gorkss, Pearce; Karacan (Robson-Kanu 41 (Mullins 90)), Leigertwood, Kebe, McAnuff (c); Hunt (Le Fondre 68), Roberts
Subs: McCarthy, Church
Leeds (4-4-2): Lonergan; Lees, Robinson, Bromby, Bruce; Brown, Snodgrass (Webber 86), Thompson, Pugh; Becchio (Forssell 87), McCormack (Rogers 86)
Subs: Taylor, Paynter
Red card: Thompson (foul 11)
Yellow cards: Robinson (foul 52), Becchio (foul 54), Pugh (foul 59)Starting XI team news:
The Royals' starting XI was unchanged from the win over West Ham, but there were two changes on the bench. Jay Tabb and Benik Afobe were injured; Hayden Mullins and Adam Le Fondre named on the bench.First half:
Reading had the first chance of the game, Kaspars Gorkss heading narrowly over from Ian Harte's corner. Almost a carbon copy of the goal at West Ham seven days earlier.
Michael Brown then put in a very rugged challenge on Mikele Leigertwood, and it set the tone for the game to spark into life. Brown won the ball but caught Leigertwood with his second leg, and it was not the first time in the game he made that type of challenge.
Soon Reading had possession wide on the left, and United youngster Zac Thompson jumped into a tackle on Jobi McAnuff before being shown a straight red card. It was a wild challenge and unneccesary, not in a dangerous area of the pitch. Leeds will argue that a red was perhaps harsh, but it was a tempestuous challenge from the young man. It was somewhere between a yellow and a red card.
Former Leeds man Ian Harte then shot not too far over with a good right footed effort, and then his cross hit the upright as it deceived Andy Lonergan in the United goal.
Neil Warnock's side then really could have been down to nine men as Danny Pugh tackled Jem Karacan over the top of the ball. Not even a foul was given, but the Sky TV close-up of Jem's ripped sock said it all, as did Brian McDermott's protest - the boss was a yard on the pitch with the ball still in play.
Down the other end, Leeds finally had a shot of note as Ross McCormack shot wide in the 29th minute.
Leeds' tackling was fierce to say the least, and another Brown challenge, similar to his earlier one on Leigertwood, saw Karacan succumb to injury. The Leeds man won the ball, but it was more than rugged. Hal Robson-Kanu came on and McAnuff moved to the middle. Karacan later left the ground in a protective boot and on crutches.
After umpteen stoppages, the game lost its tempo and Reading fans were frustrated. Their mood was not helped when only three minutes added time were given - nowhere near enough after a red card, a substitution and countless fouls.Second half:
Within seconds of the restart Leeds were awarded a free kick, and after a full minute's wait McCormack forced Federici into a low save. It was relatively comfortable.
Luciano Becchio then had Alex Pearce in a headlock from a corner - right under the nose of the refereee - but nothing was given. To be fair it was hard to comprehend why a penalty was not awarded.
In fairness to Darren Drysdale it was a difficult game to referee, with Paul Robinson and Becchio both booked for cynical challenges.
In between, Reading had a real goalmouth scramble that Leeds somehow hacked clear, then Robson-Kanu did very well but his touch agonisingly let him down.
Next in the book was Pugh, and it was a very late tackle on McAnuff. A booking was correct, but in such a charged atmosphere one half expected a red to be shown. Overall, for Pugh to have been sent off would not have been unfair given his first half tackle on Karacan.
From the free kick, Pearce headed over, and Lonergan was sped up by the referee after perceived dawdling with the goal kick.
Leeds were barely in the game, but a long throw eventually came to McCormack and he hit the outside of the post with an excellent effort.
McCormack then went on a lovely run, and gave Robert Snodgrass a glorious chance - but he shot far too close to Federici and our 'keeper made a very important stop indeed. Snodgrass really should have done better, but Federici is a very difficult obstacle to overcome.
Federici then saved a free kick, before Pearce had a free header inside the Leeds area - he tried to find a teammate but it was just too high and he might have been better off simply volleying at goal.
Reading were increasing the pressure, and Leigertwood showed very good feet inside the box, but shot over with his left foot as the game ticked into its last nine minutes.
Sub Adam Le Fondre then had the ball in the net, but was rightly given offside as he poached home a Lonergan fumble.
But Le Fondre
was not to be denied again - and cheekily chested home from a yard after Robson-Kanu nodded back across goal. Rarely has a goal been celebrated so much. It had been such a frustrating 83 minutes - but the goal more than made up for it.
Lonergan then had to make a good save from Leigertwood, but soon enough Le Fondre
made it 2-0 with another one-yard finish after very good play from Leigertwood and Roberts.
Such a relief.
And it was the right result.