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Report: Honours even after absorbing Leeds draw

Four goals didn't tell half the story in what was an end-to-end encounter with Leeds this afternoon...

10 March 2018

An enthralling encounter ended all square at Madejski Stadium as goals from Jon Dadi Bodvarsson and a Eunan O'Kane own goal helped Jaap Stam's side earn another vital point.

  • Bodvarsson hands the hosts the lead with a low finish after a quarter of an hour
  • Leeds level just before half-time through Jansson's strike.
  • Hernandez gives the visitors the advantage for the first time with a spectacular strike
  • Bacuna's low drive beats Peacock-Farrell to make it 2-2 via a deflection
  • Both teams hit the woodwork in entertaining affair that ends all square

Royals boss Jaap Stam made three changes to the eleven that started at home to Bolton in midweek, bringing in Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, Leandro Bacuna and Tiago Ilori. The squad included four Academy graduates - Liam Kelly starting, with Sam Smith, Tom Holmes and Danny Loader on the bench.

Reading began brightly, Barrow almost ghosting onto a ball over the top from Kelly and then the former Leeds man winning a corner which had to be turned behind at the near post by a Leeds defender.

The first shot at goal came from the boot of Ezgjan Aliosji who swept an effort wide of Anssi Jaakkola's left upright. And it took a good low reflex save from Jaakkola to keep out Alioski at his near post with the game eight minutes old.

Barrow was Reading' main outlet and both he and Bodvarsson looked to pull low balls back into the Leeds box from alternative flanks, only for a Leeds player to intercept both passes before they could reach a Royal.

But the deadlock was broken after a quarter of an hour when Kelly intercepted the ball in midfield and Clement lais it off to Aluko who played a perfectly weighted pass in behind the Leeds back line; Barrow and Bodvarsson raced to get on the end of it and the Icelander got there first, took it on into the box and slid a shot past Bailey Peacock-Farrell.

It was so close to 2-0 as the half reached its mid-point. Reading passed their way out from the right back position and Kelly swept it out to Gunter who darted forward and played the ball in behind for Barrow to race onto. He played a first time cross into the middle and Bodvarsson stretched a leg out to direct it goalwards - but somehow a combination of goalkeeper and defender scrapped it off the line and Evans' follow-up was charged down.

Jaakkola safely held onto a stinging shot from Berardi just before the half hour mark. But Reading calmly cleared a United free kick and Barrow chased down the last defender to force him into an error. The former Leeds man burst through one on one but his low placed show was palmed around the post by Peacock-Farrell.

Reading nearly had a spectacular second that their forward play had deserved when Evans tried his luck from 25 yards out and it took a fingertip save from Peacock-Farrell to push it onto the crossbar and behind.

At the other end, Leeds looked dangerous in the final third, but Jaakkola was able to watch an effort from Pablo Hernandez sail too high and behind for a goal kick with five minutes of the first half remaining.

Reading got a little lucky moments later when Ekuban turned and shot and his strike spun off the blocking Moore's body and sailed inches wide of the right post. 

But Leeds had their leveller before the break, Saiz got in behind the Reading back line and pulled a pass back for Jansson who shot and a last ditch header from Gunter couldn't keep it out of the home side's net.

The visitors came very close to taking the lead soon after, Alioski squirming his way past a Gunter tackle and ricocheting it off Jaakkola to turn the ball against the post from yards out but a very tight angle.

But in an end to end game, the Royals nearly retook the lead in injury time when Evans scuttled across the edge of the area and teed up Clement whose first time effort beat the Leeds keeper but whistled wide of the left upright.

Half time | Reading 1-1 Leeds United

The game on a knife edge, both teams pressed for the lead at the start of the second half - Bacuna arrowing over the bar at one end and Jaakkola punching clear a Leeds corner at the other.

But it was Paul Heckingbottom's men who took the lead ten minutes into the second period. Cutting inside Bacuna, Pablo Hernandez swept home a superb right-footed finish that Jaakkola at full stretch couldn't keep out.

But the Royals were level only three minutes later. Aluko turned on a sixpence and fed Bacuna who arrowed a low shot from the corner of the penalty box which fizzed past Peacock-Farrell perhaps with the help of a touch from Eunan O'Kane in front of him on the edge of the six yard box.

John Swift and Dave Edwards were brought on by Stam, while Leeds introduced Pierre-Michel Lasogga up front as both sides looked for three points.

Jaakkola was down low to his right to push a fine Alioski strike wide of the target as we entered the final ten minutes at Madejski Stadium.

Soon after Barrow stole possession from Berardi and his low fizzed cross had to be turned behind by a sliding Leeds body. And the away side were almost gifted a winner when Jaakkola's clearance was charged down by Lasogga and the ball skewed high into the air and spun off the turf to touch the inside of the post before the Finn could smother it on his goalline.

Four minutes of added time were signalled and Barrow won a corner on the right side, which Peacock-Farrell claimed under pressure. But there was no time for a match-winner.

Full time | Reading 2-2 Leeds United

Reading: Jaakkola, Gunter, Moore, Ilori, Bacuna, Evans (Edwards 63), Clement (Swift 63), Kelly, Aluko, Barrow, Bodvarsson.
Subs: Mannone, Blackett, Holmes, Loader, Smith.
Goals: Bodvarsson 16, O'Kane  58
Yellow: Evans, Kelly.

Leeds United: Peacock-Farrell, Pennington, Jansson, Berardi (c), De Bock, Forshaw, O'Kane, Hernandez (Dallas 85), Saiz, Alioski, Ekuban (Lasogga 77).
Subs: Wiedwald, Anita, Lasogga, Dallas, Phillips, Vieira, Pearce.
Goals: Jansson 43, Hernandez 56
Yellow: Pennington

Referee: Mr S Duncan
Attendance: 19,770 (3,467 away)

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