It ended honours even in the first home outing of the 2015-16 season, as Reading and Leeds United drew 0-0 at Madejski Stadium.
Each team hit the side netting after the interval, but it was a game where each of the rear-guards kept the opposition attack at bay.
Anton Ferdinand and Hal Robson-Kanu were handed their first league starts of the new season against the Whites, following their midweek involvement in the Capital One Cup at Colchester.
And within two minutes of kick-off, a slide-rule pass by home debutant Stephen Quinn sent Robson-Kanu racing clear – a cynical lunging challenge just outside the area by United captain Sol Bamba was met with the first booking of the afternoon. It was a light punishment, with the Royals man bearing down on goal, and Oliver Norwood’s resultant free-kick was well held by Marco Silvestri.
Bamba again was rocked when some persistence from Danny Williams allowed the Reading man to nip the ball away from the defender high upfield – it was only a slightly heavy touch as he entered the box that allowed Liam Cooper to come across to cover.
Leeds had also had some early opportunities, including a strike by Stuart Dallas which had the sting taken out of it by a deflection, but openings dried up until around the half-hour mark when Robson-Kanu hit a stinging strike on the half-volley which Leeds stopper Silvestri gathered well.
The best opportunity for the visitors in the first period came five minutes before the break when Sam Byram got to the right byline and hung up a deep cross, and Chris Gunter did well to make life difficult for Leeds forward Dallas who could only head over. In an instant reply, Nick Blackman shifted his bodyweight well to open up space in midfield, but eventually the forward pulled a shot wide.
Half-time: Reading 0 Leeds United 0
Defences were again on top at the start of the second period, and it was not long before the hour before either goalkeeper had much to worry about. Quinn’s whipped delivery needed touching behind by Bamba, and from the corner which followed, captain Paul McShane couldn’t direct Oliver Norwood’s delivery on target.
At the other end of the field, Kalvin Phillips swung in a corner from the left, and Chris Wood’s header was deflected over. Phillips had a second bite of the cherry and found Tom Adeyemi, but he was always stretching and misdirected his headed effort.
In quick succession each team hit the net, but on the wrong side of the upright. Whites forward Chris Wood was first to come close as he was allowed to latch on to a big ball forward, but could only steer into the side netting as he was shown wide. Then Orlando Sa showed pace and strength to hold off a challenge from full-back Gaetano Berardi but shot into the side of Silvestri’s net.
Goalkeeper Jonathan Bond showed alertness and bravery to save low at the feet of Adeyemi after Wood had nodded on a deep free-kick from Charlie Taylor, while a slick and improvised by the Royals down the right almost resulted in a stunning opener – eventually Robson-Kanu’s effort was closed down followed terrific interplay between Sa and Williams.
Taylor again caused the Royals defence a few problems as he pumped a ball deep into the box, but Wood was only able to loop his half-volley over from 25 yards as the clearance fell into his path.
Reading had a late chance to nick all three points when Adeyemi felled Williams 30 yards from goal, but a curling effort by Jordan Obita was picked out of the top corner by Silvestri as game ended all square.
Full-time: Reading 0 Leeds United 0
: Bond, Gunter, Obita, McShane (c), Ferdinand, Norwood (Hector 89), Quinn (Tshibola 77), Williams, Robson-Kanu, Blackman (Cox 83), Sa.
Unused subs: Al-Habsi, A.Taylor, Stacey, Novakovich.
: Silvestri, Berardi, Taylor, Bamba, Cooper, Phillips (Murphy 73), Adeyemi, Mowatt (Antenucci 73), Byram, Dallas, Wood.
Unused subs: Turnbull, Wootton, Doukara, Bellusci, Erwin.
Attendance: 21,581 (4,131 away).
Referee: Chris Kavanagh