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Title THINGS are slowly getting back to normality at the Mad Stad - on and off the field. Now it's time to step on the gas and get motoring - starting tonight at Leeds. The points return up to now is better than It might have been in the circumstances, with a whole team of experienced players out injured for much of the time. And the points tally would have been even better but for unlucky late goals against at Wigan and Sheffield Wednesday, and, it must be said, the suicidal defending in Sunday's 3-3 draw with Wolves. Entertaining, yes, but it should have been a comfortable win for the Royals. The first two Wolves goals were absolute giveaways, the third a scruffy in-off. The Reading back four still looks suspect, particularly down the flanks where both Chris Gunter and Jordan Obita look a lot happier going forward than they do defending. The good news came with three goals at the other end, two from perfectly-executed training ground manoeuvres, the third a cracker from Glenn Murray, a man who is one of the great predatory finishers at this level. The days of an all-Academy bench and rookies all over the starting eleven are now almost over - although it will still be like a bonus transfer window when Jem Karacan, Danny Williams, Garath McCleary, Shaun Cummings, Anton Ferdinand and others are available again.
Up North, it's the first home match in charge for this month's Leeds manager Darko Milanic, who is keen to see his side bounce back from defeat in his first game in charge at Brentford on Saturday. He will also hope history can be wiped out, because Leeds are on an eight-match winless run against the Royals, who have kept clean sheets in five of the last six games against Yorkshire's fallen giants. Reading have also won on three of their last trips to Elland Road. It's easy to dismiss Leeds nowadays as a joke club, who have had a succession of different people in charge at coaching - and boardroom - level in the past year. Controversial chairman Massimo Cellino sacked Brian McDermott several times earlier this year before B-Mac finally disappeared, and has had a variety of people on the touchline since. Dave Hockaday started the season as shock choice as manager, but lasted just a handful of games before being replaced by Milanic. Signor Cellino, however, has acquired a couple of decent Italian players, and a recent win at Bournemouth, and three wins in the last four home games, underline that, pantomime club or not, Leeds still have sufficient ability to command respect. Royals will keep Sunday's squad intact, but will probably have Danny Guthrie in from the start.
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------------------------------------- A STUNNING goal by Glenn Murray a minute from the end salvaged a draw for Reading from a game they would have won but for some horror defending. Murray's strike came five minutes after Wolves had bundled in what had seemed like a winner in a highly-entertaining game. On the plus side Royals scored three times against a side which had only conceded three in their eight previous games - and none of those from open play. On the downside, the Reading defending was dreadful at times, and the "keep-ball" play favoured by Nigel Adkins not as good as he hoped. Adkins, who was not best pleased despite the draw, said: "We've picked up another point, but in this league you have to win your home games. We have to have better quality possession to create opportunities. Our passing was not as crisp as we wanted, and we will work on that on the training ground. That said, we played against a very good side, and you have to give them their credit." He was, however, pleased with the entertainment level of the game and had particular praise for Jake Taylor's goal which squared it at 2-2.
Royals bossed the first half and should have turned round more than a goal in front. They survived an early scare when some sloppy defending allowed George Saville a clear sight of goal, but Adam Federici was equal to it. After that most of the goalmouth action was at the other end. Simon Cox flicked a header wide when it was easier to score, and ex-Royals junior Scott Golbourne made a great saving tackle when Murray was through. On 18 minutes Royals made the breakthrough. Jordan Obita and Oliver Norwood played a one-two at a corner and Norwood's cross was headed in firmly by Michael Hector. Murray went close, and Hope Akpan missed a shooting chance before the half-time whistle brought respite for Wolves.
The visitors just had to get better, and in a devastating burst in the first eight minutes of the second half they did just that - as Royals gifted them two goals. First Chris Gunter allowed the lively Bakary Sako to get in a low cross. Alex Pearce, in an identical position to his own goal at Derby, opted to get out of the way this time, and wrong-footed Obita, who allowed James Henry to steal in behind him to score. Moments later Wolves were in front, with another horror goal. Obita made a woefully feeble clearance in his own box, and passed straight to Lee Evans, who rattled it straight back into the net. That lead lasted 78 seconds as Royals broke quickly to the other end and Simon Cox fed a brilliant through ball for Taylor to equalise. Six minutes from the end it looked all in vain with an excellent decision by the linesman putting Wolves into what could have been a decisive lead. TV pictures showed the lino was right on the ball when a lowish corner came into the Reading box and caused chaos. Dave Edwards got a head on it, Nick Blackman also got a touch, and eventually it was cleared by Norwood, but from a foot behind the line. It looked like a sad end to an entertaining afternoon - but justice was done when Jamie Mackie teed up Murray for a crackerjack shot into the top right corner. MATCH REPORT from the RFC club website.
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