Leeds were in decent form at home against Reading but were denied three points by a fantastic performance from young Reading goalkeeper Alex McCarthy as the game finished goalless.

Simon Grayson recalled captain Richard Naylor for his first start since October. Paul Connolly started at right back while Eric Lichaj switched to the left. A midfield pairing of Jake Livermore and Bradley Johnson was chosen while Billy Paynter was given a chance up front. The match also saw the return of ex-White Ian Harte to Elland Road. Thankfully he had a quiet night.

The visitors probably edged the first half though it was Leeds who had the better chances. A great cross from Jake Livermore was met by Robert Snodgrass’ head, it was destined for the goal but for a terrific acrobatic save from McCarthy – the first of many.

The next best chance of the half came from Max Gradel as the Ivorian robbed Reading defender Khizanishvili before shooting a low, hard dipping drive at McCarthy who was able to make contact and watch as the ball squirmed agonisingly wide of the post.

The defence was holding up surprisingly well but we were looking a bit shaky in the centre of midfield. Jake Livermore was booked for a rash late challenge and, after dwelling on the ball too long and diving into another tackle, he could have seen red. In truth, it would have been a harsh dismissal. Livermore was replaced at half time by Neil Kilkenny.

Leeds started much brighter in the second half, putting in some good early crosses and passing it around better. We were beginning to put on more pressure and the fans were raising the volume inside Elland Road. Again though there were glimpses of poor defending from Leeds as a flashed cross went untouched and unchallenged six yards out and Gradel let their right back walk right past him and smash a shot wide. More worryingly, was the pace at which Johnson was moving – he was like a statue in the middle of the park but that could have been forgiven as he seemed to remember he had legs and set off cantering from the half way line with the ball and, getting a lucky bounce, found himself through on goal. His stabbed left foot shot crashed off the bar. The closest Leeds had come.

Reading began to get into the game a bit more but we were restricting them well. The defence were coping decently on the whole and Naylor, although yellow carded and occasionally troubled by Shane Long, played very well. It was our central midfield that was the problem; they were far too slow and didn’t provide enough cover for the defence. On one ocassion both Kilkenny and Johnson got dragged out to the left side, allowing Leigertwood to move unpressured and strike just wide from distance, much to Kasper Schmeichel’s anger.

On the whole, Leeds were looking the more likely to score and Simon Grayson reacted with two positive changes; bringing Davide Somma on for Paynter and Sanchez Watt on for Jonny Howson.

It was Snodgrass though who went close again. Somma fed a good ball to Gradel who crashed a shot at McCarthy before latching onto the rebound and crossing for Snodgrass whose free header was denied by the scrambling keeper. He really should have scored but the attempt was at a comfortable height for the keeper. Our final chance came as Kilkenny dinked a smart pass over the defence, leaving a 50-50 challenge between Watt and McCarthy. The ball bounced and Watt could have grabbed the winner but lost his footing attempting a flick when he really needed to show some composure.

It wasn’t to be for Leeds and the point sees us slip down to 7th following Nottingham Forest’s win earlier in the day. On reflection it was a decent performance and result as we did all we could bar score and that was down to a magnificent display of goalkeeping. To practically dominate a match against high-flying Reading having made a number of changes to the team is reassuring yet there are still problems in the defensive part of midfield that need addressing.