- Blackman forces Silvestri into fingertip save
- Hector header pushed wide of bottom corner
- Sharp forces first Federici save in 85th min
- Three penalty appeals for Royals dismissed
The Royals earned a share of a spoils against Leeds United tonight, in a game that the visitors bossed for large parts of the game and arguably deserved much more from.
Nick Blackman came closest for the visitors, forcing Marco Silvestri into a superb first half save with a bullet effort from range, then being denied by the Leeds keeper at the near post late in the game.
Michael Hector also almost repeated his feat of the weekend, placing a lovely downward header towards the bottom corner only to be thwarted by a sharp Silvestri save, while Adam Federici's first save of the game came when substitute Billy Sharp fired on target with just five minutes left.
Nick Blackman and Jake Taylor both had huge shouts for penalties ignored and, despite dominating the match and playing some excellent stuff at Elland Road, Nigel Adkins' men were forced to settle for a point as a high-tempo game ended goalless.
Leeds: Silvestri, Byram, Bellusci, Pearce (c), Cooper, Cook (Murphy 59), Bianchi, Mowatt (Austin 67), Sloth, Antentucci (Sharp 83), Doukara.
Subs: Taylor, Warnock, Wootton, Morison.
Yellow: Cooper, Doukara.
Reading: Federici, Gunter (c), Obita, Pearce, Hector, Akpan (Guthrie 71), Norwood, Taylor (Mackie 77), Cox (Robson-Kanu 75), Blackman, Murray
Subs: Andersen, Long, Cooper, Pogrebnyak
Yellow: Hector, Norwood, Pearce, Federici.Referee: Mr T Harrington
Leeds began the game brightly but the first shot on goal came from the boot of Nick Blackman. He ignored the overlap of Chris Gunter, cut in from the right and unleashed a powerful drive from 25 yards that Marco Silvestri did well to palm over his crossbar.
Murray headed Norwood's subsequent corner kick over and moments later Cox stuck the palms of Silvestri with another effort from range, this one gathered in well by the Leeds keeper.
In a lively opening, Alex Mowatt lashed high over the bar at the other end, but Murray won a flick on from Federici's long kick and raced onto Cox's throughball down the right side of the box, crossing low into the middle but unable to find a Reading leg before Leeds could hack clear of their six yard box.
Nick Blackman skipped in between two defenders and appealed unsuccessfully for a penalty, only to win a free kick in the same manner moments later, by running at the Leeds left-back. But the hosts dealt with the set piece well.
A stray pass from defence almost allowed the impressive Mowatt to break the deadlock, the midfielder picking the ball up 25 yards out and trying a cheeky lob with ten minutes of the half remaining, but the ball sailed harmlessly over the crossbar.
Just before the break, Norwood conceded a free kick right on the edge of the penalty area. From a dangerous position though, Giuseppe Bellusci skied high over the crossbar to the travelling Royals fans' relief.
Early in the second half, Norwood and Cox combined nicely from a short corner on the left for the latter to cut a ball back to Hector in the middle. He shot with his left foot but it bobbled wide of Silvestri's dive and the left post.
Cox almost threaded a ball back into Gunter who had scuttled into the box, but the final ball was just beyond the Welsh international's lunge as he tried to control it in a great shooting position.
Norwood, the main architect in a superb spell of passing that took the play from back to front, almost finished it off just before the hour, when he struck a first time effort just over and Leeds were forced into the first change, bringing Luke Murphy on for Cook.
A simply sublime precision goal kick from Federici out to Taylor almost created another opening, Gunter and Taylor involved but the final cross falling behind three Reading men in the middle.
And Silvestri was forced into a smart save low at his near post to deny Hector a goal with a header from Norwood's corner. Pearce also came close to connecting at the far post with the follow-up Norwood delivery, but he just couldn't get a touch to it to turn it over the line.
Then the Royals were denied a penalty when superb work from Blackman saw the ball worked out to Cox who slid the ball into the feet of Taylor. He skipped inside his man and was brought to the ground, but nothing was awarded despite Taylor's protests.
Reading were pressing and pressing for a breakthrough and dominating their hosts, Murray coming an inch away from getting a telling glance to Norwood's floated free kick.
Leeds weren't making any progress in the final third until a couple of clumsy miskicks and then a foul by Gunter on Austin handed the hosts a free kick, which Austin swept over the bar.
But Blackman forced the United stopper into another fine save with a powerful drive from a tight angle with ten minutes remaining.
Soon after, former Royal Billy Sharp was introduced by Darko Milanic and the home fans came alive when the diminutive striker scurried towards the edge of the box and struck a fine effort that forced Federici into his first save of the night.
Blackman appealed for a late penalty as he was shoved over inside the box, but to no avail.
With the points still up for grabs, a frantic finish ensued, Blackman skying high into the stands after scurrying into the area from the left in the final few minutes of normal time.
Five minutes of injury time were signalled but there was no way through at either end and, despite all Reading's pressure, the Royals had to settle for a share of the spoils.