Chris Wood's brace inspires 3-2 victory at Elland Road...
UNITED 3 (Diagouraga 48, Wood 69, 85), READING 2 (Hector 39, Rakels 81)
United team: Silvestri, Berardi, Bellusci, Cooper, Taylor, Diagouraga (Phillips 66), Murphy, Cook, Dallas (Coyle 90+1), Antenucci (Erwin 80), Wood. Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Wootton, Sloth, Botaka.
Reading team: Al-Habsi, McCleary, Taylor, Cooper, Hector, Evans (Rakels 71), Norwood, Quinn, Piazon (John 76), Vydra, Cox. Subs: Bond, Ferdinand, Kuhl, Watson, Barrett.
Referee: Jeremy Simpson
Booked: Cooper, Antenucci (United), Evans, Norwood, McCleary (Reading)
Att: 20, 881 (480 away fans)
The visit of Reading saw United head coach Steve Evans make just the one change from the midweek victory away to Birmingham City, with Giuseppe Bellusci returning to the defence in place of captain Sol Bamba, who missed out with illness.
It was a lively start to proceedings at Elland Road, with good chances at both ends during the early exchanges.
Mirco Antenucci came closest for United, squeezing in a shot in from a tight angle which needed Jake Cooper to be alert to hack off the Reading goal-line, while Marco Silvestri was called upon to deny Simon Cox after the striker had slipped through one-on-one.
Michael Hector then dragged a low effort wide after the resulting Reading corner fell into his path at the back post, but United created the game’s best opening after 15 minutes, only for Antenucci to skew a first-time strike well wide after being teed up by Chris Wood on the edge of the area.
Corners appeared to be the Royals’ most likely source of finding a way through in the early stages, and Hector should have troubled Silvestri after rising unchallenged to glance wide from six yards out.
Cox was also guilty of failing to hit the target as he lashed wide from the edge of the area after surging through the middle of the United defence, but Hector made no mistake to open the scoring on 39 minutes, slotting home a free-kick from close-range after being found arriving unmarked at the back post.
United looked to mount a quick response and Reading’s Jake Cooper was fortunate not to turn a Dallas cross into his own net as his clearance bounced behind, before Wood headed well over the bar on the stroke of half-time.
United made a dream start to the second half, though, pulling level within three minutes of the restart courtesy of Toumani Diagouraga’s second goal for the club. The midfielder, a January arrival from Brentford, was picked out by Gaetano Berardi’s pin-point cross from the right to guide a downwards header beyond Ali Al-Habsi from close-range.
Lucas Piazon then threatened to restore the visitors’ lead, twice firing wide in quick succession from a similar position 20 yards out.
But United had the momentum and substitute Kalvin Phillips saw his strike blocked on the edge of the area within minutes of stepping off the bench, before Wood headed the hosts into a deserved lead.
The striker, taking his tally to 10 for the season, met Charlie Taylor’s cross from the left and, although Al-Habsi got a strong hand on it in a valiant attempt to claw to safety, the linesman ruled the ball had crossed the line.
Reading substitute Deniss Rakels pulled the visitors level as the game headed towards the closing stages, though, hammering the ball home from inside the area after Cox’s initial effort had cannoned off the crossbar and into his path.
It looked set to be ending honours even, but Wood was on hand in a frantic finale to clinch the three points five minutes from time, racing through on goal to slot beyond Al-Habsi for his second of the afternoon to make it back-to-back Championship victories for United.