Darko Milanic collects first point in goalless draw at Elland Road...
UNITED 0, READING 0.
United: Silvestri, Byram, Bellusci, Pearce, Cooper, Cook (Murphy 58), Mowatt (Austin 66), Bianchi, Sloth, Antenucci (Sharp 82), Doukara. Subs. S Taylor, Warnock, Wootton, Morison.
Reading: Federici, Gunter, Pearce, Hector, Norwood, Akpan (Guthrie 70), Obita, Taylor (Mackie 76), Cox (Robson-Kanu 74), Blackman, Murray. Subs. Andersen, Pogrebnyak, Long, Cooper.
Referee: T Harrington
Booked: Cooper, Doukara, Bellusci (United), Hector, Norwood, Pearce, Federici (Reading)
Att: 20,705 (302 Reading)
Head coach Darko Milanic made two changes for his first game in charge at Elland Road as Liam Cooper and Casper Sloth replaced Stephen Warnock and Rodolph Austin from the weekend's defeat at Brentford.
United made a lively start with both Alex Mowatt and Mirco Antenucci driving them forward with surging runs in the early stages, but it was the visitors who had the first sight of goal as Nick Blackman forced Marco Silvestri into a fine fingertip save from range.
Michael Hector then headed the resulting corner over the bar before United’s first opening came on 10 minutes as the advancing Mowatt was invited to try his luck from 25 yards, only to see his effort sail over the bar.
Nigel Adkins’ side were enjoying their fair share of possession but United were seemingly happy to soak it up and look to hit them on the counter attack as both Sam Byram and Souleymane Doukara threatened on the break.
Clear-cut chances were proving scarce for both sides as the game approached the half-hour mark. United did look sharp going forward, though, as Antenucci was inches away from getting his outstretched leg onto Cooper’s delivery from the left.
Mowatt was then gifted an opening to shoot as he intercepted a loose ball from the Reading defence and looked to catch Adam Federici off his line, but the young midfielder was unable to find the target with his curling effort.
Giuseppe Bellusci then blazed over from a free-kick on the edge of the area as a largely uneventful opening 45 drew to a close with the scoreline goalless.
The second half started at a livelier pace with Mowatt seeing an effort deflected behind for a corner before Hector side-footed wide at the opposite end.
Oliver Norwood lashed a speculative strike way over the bar before Milanic was prompted into making his first change of the evening after 58 minutes, as Luke Murphy replaced Lewis Cook in midfield.
United were finding themselves frustrated as Reading probed for an opener, but Silvestri was on hand to deny Glenn Murray with a fine stop at the near post as the best chance of the night so far was spurned.
Austin was introduced in place of Mowatt as Milanic looked to stem the tide, but the visitors continued to push forward as Hector found the side-netting from a dangerous free-kick.
Austin, playing at the tip of a midfield diamond, fired over from a free-kick after Doukara was tripped, while Silvestri was on hand once again to push away Blackman’s low drive to his right after a quick break up-field.
Federici was then made to back-pedal but managed to recover in time after Austin had tried to lob him from the halfway line, before Billy Sharp replaced Antenucci in attack with eight minutes remaining on the clock.
Sharp was immediately involved, skipping away from two challenges before letting fly on the edge of the area and forcing Federici into a smart save to beat away United’s first shot of the night on target. Austin then dragged wide as the Kop end looked to suck a late winner into Federici's net.
Five minutes of stoppage time were added on but neither side were able to find a dramatic way through as Milanic collected his first point since taking charge.