Royals back in play-offs with Foxes point
Monday 14th April 2014
Reading battled in a well-fought draw with the division's leaders, Leicester City, despite taking a first half lead at the Madejski Stadium.
Nigel Adkins rung the changes following the Bournemouth defeat, with Sean Morrison, Michael Hector, Danny Williams and Garath McCleary coming in for the Royals, who dropped out of the play-off spots on the weekend due to other results. However, just a point would take us back into the sixth spot, but only on goal difference, with Brighton, Bournemouth and Ipswich just behind.
Both sides wanted to respond to their recent heavy defeats, neither side could take control in the opening stages of the game, but the first major incident was the visitors having the ball in the net. Neat interchange on the left side allowed a low, driven cross to be delivered into the six-yard box and Jamie Vardy tapped it home, only to be denied by the linesman and maybe wrongly so.
Leiecester were seemingly starting to grow into the game, but it was Reading who took an early lead at the Madejski Stadium. Jordan Obita`s well-delivered free kick into the box was attacked by Alex Pearce, whose header had the perfect placement to beat Schmeichel. This gave us the impetus to take a stranglehold of the game, as we were now playing with some confidence at home.
Garath McCleary was getting some joy on the right wing and nearly conjured up an opportunity for McAnuff, but despite not getting a clean connection on the winger`s cross, managed to force Schmeichel into a smart save with his feet. We were playing with good tempo and putting some good crosses into the Leicester area, but ultimately couldn`t find a crucial second goal.
Mahrez was having somewhat of a field day against a clearly not-match fit Wayne Bridge and after turning him inside out, will be disappointed to have not tested McCarthy more with a low effort. Leicester pressure was gradually building and the league leaders eventually equalised through Danny Drinkwater, whose long-range effort wrong-footed McCarthy in the Reading goal.
Wes Morgan is regarded as one of the best central defenders of the league these days and was within inches of adding a goal to his impressive form this season, but couldn`t keep his header down from a corner. The energetic Williams then gave McCleary a great chance just before half time, but despite being through, Schmeichel saved his goalbound effort, despite a goal-kick being signalled.
It was a good start to the second half from Reading and hit the post within five minutes, as McCleary did well to beat his man and his cross was attacked by Pavel Pogrebnyak, but the big Russian`s weak header bobbled onto the post and was eventually cleared by the Foxes. The game was opening up and craving a winning goal, with both sides needing the points for different reasons.
Towards the hour mark, Leicester were starting to dominate proceedings and should have taken the lead, as Drinkwater was put through, but his snapshot from ten yards was saved by McCarthy, showing shades of his counterpart`s father, Peter. Sean Morrison`s 6`5 frame nearly came into good use from a McAnuff corner, but despite rising well in the area, couldn`t keep his header down.
Despite both sides having spells of decent possession, clear cut chances were at a premium, with credit going to both defences for their resilience and concentration. Mikele Leigertwood made his first home appearance in over a year from the substitute`s bench following a long-term injury, but only lasted twenty minutes, as he received a deserved second booking with just five minutes to play.
Danny Drinkwater was fancying his luck from long-range in this game, but luck wasn`t to be on his side this time, as he fired over late into injury time. The final whistle was met with a good reception from the home fans and deservedly so, after a much improved home showing against the league leaders, who have already been promoted - you could certainly see why, a quality side.
A point takes us back into the play-off spot and while a win would have been great for us, we can`t complain with this one. It will go down to the wire, that is for sure, but if we can pull off an unlikely result against Wigan on Friday afternoon, it would certainly put us in a great position for the final three games against Charlton, Middlesbrough and Burnley. Let`s remain optimistic though!
Reading - 4-2-3-1: McCarthy, Gunter, Pearce, Morrison, Bridge, Hector, Williams, McCleary, Obita, McAnuff, Pogrebnyak
Subs: Federici, Gorkss, Kelly, Leigertwood, Robson-Kanu, Drenthe, Le Fondre
Leicester - 4-4-2: Schmeichel, de Laet, Morgan, Wasilewski, Schlupp, Mahrez, Hammond, Drinkwater, Dyer, Nugent, Vardy
Subs: Logan, Moore, Konchesky, King, Knockeart, Taylor-Fletcher, Wood