Owusu's strike is poor reward

Reading 1 - Leeds United 1
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The Independent Online

Reading extended their unbeaten run to seven league games last night but they and their fans will still feel that, with all the chances and possession they enjoyed, three points rather than just the one should have been their reward.

Reading extended their unbeaten run to seven league games last night but they and their fans will still feel that, with all the chances and possession they enjoyed, three points rather than just the one should have been their reward.

With their very first attack, Leeds opened the scoring, taking just 75 seconds to do so. The Yorkshiremen these days can boast - despite their terrible financial plight - two strikers with Premiership experience, in Michael Ricketts and Brett Ormerod. However, neither was on the scoresheet inside two minutes.

Instead that honour fell to Simon Walton, a 17-year-old central midfielder, forced into more regular first-team duty than his manager, Kevin Blackwell, would want thanks to the wafer-thin nature of Leeds' squad these days. But, despite his tender age, he knew where to run when Ormerod ventured down the right wing and from the Southampton loanee's cross, Walton's header beat Marcus Hahnemann with ease and he had notched up his first senior goal.

Reading, who started the evening in second place in the Championship, did not take long to respond and should have been level 12 minutes later. Dave Kitson, a clever striker who can come deep, picked out Shaun Goater but the Bermudan's shot was too close to Neil Sullivan.

Those two combined once more exactly 12 minutes later, although this time Glen Little started the move from the right. Kitson dropped his header on to Goater's boot, but the volley was deflected wide. With the home side showing real urgency, Little himself had a go in between those two efforts but, from Nicky Shorey's cross, the winger volleyed into Sullivan's hands.

There was the feeling a home goal was inevitable and so it arrived in first-half stoppage time. The Reading manager, Steve Coppell, had, minutes earlier, taken off Goater and brought on Lloyd Owusu. It proved an inspired substitution when Sullivan could only push Kitson's header into Owusu's path two yards out.

The Royals had chances to take the lead they deserved, but twice within two minutes they spurned them. Just four minutes after the interval, Kitson should have extended his influence on the game, but sidefooted his shot harmlessly and then Little dragged his effort wide.

Reading (4-4-2): Hahnemann; Shorey, Sonko, Ingimarsson, Murty; Hughes (Convey, 81), Sidwell, Harper, Little; Goater (Owusu, 39), Kitson. Substitutes not used: Young (gk), Morgan, Newman.

Leeds United (4-4-2): Sullivan; Kelly, Carlisle, Butler, Kilgallon; Richardson, Gregan, Walton (Spring, 71), Pugh; Ricketts (Deane, 65), Ormerod (Joachim, 81). Substitutes not used: Carson (gk), Lennon.

Referee: R Olivier (West Midlands).

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