Jaap Stam's Royals earned a valuable and fully deserved victory against Leeds United at Elland Road thanks to Mo Barrow's late strike and Vito Mannone's injury time penalty save!
- Royals enjoy better of first half; Lonergan saves from Bodvarsson and Aluko
- Brilliant Lonergan save denies substitute Barrow
- Barrow slides the ball wide of Lonergan to hand Royals late lead
- Mannone saves injury time penalty to deny Hernandez an equaliser
The Royals made three changes to the side that lost at home to Norwich before the international break, bringing in Tiago Ilori, Dave Edwards and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson to start in place of Tyler Blackett, Paul McShane and Liam Kelly. Academy graduate Sam Smith joined the substitutes' bench.
With less than two minutes played, Roy Beerens' pace nearly caught Pontus Jansson napping in possession but the Leeds defender offloaded the ball to his keeper in the nick of time.
Vito Mannone's first action was to pluck the ball comfortably out of the air after a flick on from Roofe dropped onto the head of Pierre-Michel Lasogga who aimed a harmless header goalwards which lacked the necessary power to trouble the Royals stopper.
A nice exchange down the left saw Gunter deliver a lovely first time cross with his left foot but although Edwards connected well with a header that skidded just wide of the right post, play was brought back for a tight offside decision against Gunter.
Another delivery from the left foot of Gunter was swept in superbly but Bodvarsson could only get a glancing head to the ball and McCleary was unable to recycle it from the right.
Reading were posing a threat, with an inswinging Beerens corner clawed away by Lonergan from underneath his crossbar. At the other end, Ilori's pace was enough to see him shoulder Lasogga off the ball as he looked to race onto a ball in behind the back line.
Lasogga curled a shot on the turn well wide of the right post on the half hour before Ayling skewed a speculative effort out for a throw in - but the hosts were actively trying to up the tempo in the final third.
It was Lonergan who needed to make a smart save soon after though as McCleary and Bodvarsson combined for the latter to turn his man brilliantly and wrestle his way in on goal. He stabbed a shot at the Leeds keeper who held onto it well on the edge of his six yard box.
It required more alert action from Lonergan to keep the Royals out moments later - McCleary magic opened up some space down the right and he picked out Bodvarsson in a central position who fed it on to Aluko. Aluko took aim with a left-footed effort that was bound for the bottom left corner until the keeper intervened with a fine save that saw the ball shovelled behind for a corner.
A floated cross from the right then nearly picked out Lasogga at the back post but it drifted just too long for the Leeds forward to connect with.
Half time | Leeds United 0-0 Reading
The first chance of the second period fell to the hosts but O'Kane arced a right-footed effort wide of the top right corner. Moments later, the Royals carved out an opportunity too, Bodvarsson retrieving the ball from the right flank and driving into the box along the byline, cutting the ball back for Edwards who arrowed a first time shot over the bar from a difficult spot.
Some calm defending from Edwards and then a combination of Van den Berg and Ilori kept a tasty Leeds cross away from Mannone's goal as the hour mark approached.
Bodvarsson tried a deft flick into the run of Edwards but Janssen luckily kneed it behind for a corner which Aluko delivered onto the head of the Icelander - but under pressure in the air he couldn't direct it anywhere other than high over the bar.
Bacuna was teed up by Beerens but he arrowed too high to trouble Lonergan from 22 yards out. Then substitute Mo Barrow watched as he whistled a loeft-footed shot across the face of goal but agonisingly wide.
Leeds brought on Sacko who made an immediate impact by winning a corner which found Lasogga in the middle - his stooping header looped over the crossbar.
But Barrow came so close to scoring against his former side when he took the ball off the toes of Bodvarsson to stride into the box and rifle a shot that was acrobatically saved by Lonergan high to his right.
Leeds came very close to breaking the deadlock themselves when Sacko charged down a Gunter clearance and Saiz broke at pace. He squared the ball for substitute Grot but a quite brilliant sliding challenge from Bacuna was enough to see the ball behind for a corner.
United took it quickly and a ball was cut back to Jansson who leant back and spooned his shot over from 12 yards out. And as the home crowd roared their team on, a Saiz header had to be snaffled up by Mannone low to his left.
And Reading found a goal that they deserved with six minutes remaining. Van den Berg strode onto a loose ball in midfield and powered forward, riding one tackle before threading a perfectly weighted throughball into the path of Barrow. The former Leeds man made no mistake, passing the ball wide of Lonergan and into the back of the net.
The home side looked for an instant response and a half-cleared free kick dropped to Kalvin Phillips who hooked an effort wide and high of the target to Reading's relief.
But in the first of five minutes of injury time, Leeds had a golden opportunity to level. Saiz scurried through the Royals defence and into the box and went to ground under pressure from Reading defenders. Referee Jeremy Simpson pointed to the spot to Reading's disbelief - but Mannone leapt low to his left to save Hernandez's spotkick!
A superb diving block from Gunter deflected a late shot from a Leeds boot over the bar and Reading survived a desperate late onslaught to take three points from Elland Road.
Full time | Leeds United 0-1 Reading
Leeds United: Lonergan, Ayling, Cooper (c), Jansson, Berardi (Dallas 88), O'Kane, Phillips, Roofe (Sacko 68), Hernandez, Saiz, Lasogga (Grot 77).
Subs: Wiedweld, Pennington, Klich, Cibicki.
Yellow: Saiz, O'Kane, Berardi, Hernandez, Ayling
Reading: Mannone, Bacuna, Gunter (c), Moore, Ilori, Van den Berg, Edwards, Aluko (Kelly 70), Beerens (Barrow 65), McCleary (Clement 90), Bodvarsson.
Subs: Jaakkola, Blackett, Popa, Smith.
Yellow: Van den Berg, Barrow
Goals: Barrow 84
Att: 33,900 (434 away)