Smith scores as Royals earn derby day draw – Reading Today Online

Reading v Oxford United Pictures: Steve Smyth

READING FC shared the points with Oxford United as the two rivals met for the first time in almost two decades.

The game burst into life at the end of the first-half as Ciaran Brown headed the U’s in front before Sam Smith provided a quick equaliser for the Royals and joyously celebrated in front of the away fans.

A subdued second-half ensued as Oxford failed to take advantage of their possession to create any threat as the sides had to settle for a stalemate.

The result keeps Reading in 23rd place in League One, four points off safety.

Ruben Selles made three switches from the weekend defeat to Barnsley.

Reading v Oxford United Pictures: Steve Smyth

There were two changes in defence as Tom Holmes started at centre-back in place of Tyler Bindon, while Jeriel Dorsett returned from his absence to play at left-back.

There was also a switch in attack as 18-year-old Caylan Vickers was selected to start ahead of Paul Mukairu.

A crowd of more than 16,000 turned out at the Select Car Leasing Stadium to witness the first meeting between the sides since 2004.

Both teams traded chances in the opening six minutes of the encounter with near misses at both ends.

After some neat link up play from Harvey Knibbs and Sam Smith, Femi Azeez delivered an inviting ball to the back post that just evaded the jump of Smith who was poised to nod in.

The U’s broke quickly down the other end within moments of Reading’s near miss and striker Mark Harris was a whisker away from connecting with a fizzed cross into the six-yard area.

The Royals had the next big opening when Smith burst in on the left, and in two minds of whether to shoot or cross, his half hearted cut back fell for Knibbs who saw his shot stopped by an Oxford body.

Reading were having joy with their aggressive press, but Tom Holmes was drawn out to the ball and missed his tackle which led to Michael Craig having to try and fix his error. He saw yellow for hauling down a promising Oxford attack.

After a quiet spell, the game burst into life at the end of the half.

The away side drew first blood when Stanley Mills cut onto his left foot to swing a cross into the box which was met by Ciaran Brown with a flying header to plant the ball past David Button.

The jubilation in the away end was short lived as Reading drew level just four minutes later.

Smith sprung past the Oxford offside trap, timing his run perfectly to meet Lewis Wing’s through ball and poked the ball past James Beadle before he celebrated in front the angered away support.

Azeez had a golden chance to put Reading in front before the break when an energetic burst forward from the winger ended with him sending the ball wide from just a few yards out after a low cross.

The final action of the half saw Wing’s free-kick parried out by the keeper as the teams went in all square at the break.

There was a let off for the hosts early after the restart when Harris burst behind the backline but Button came to the rescue to catch the forwards’ attempt to nod the ball past to give himself an empty net.

The Yellows nearly got into Reading’s box again but were thwarted by a mistimed tackle from Holmes who swiped at the ball but instead brought down an Oxford player which led to him being booked.

Oxford couldn’t take advantage with the resulting free-kick which was deflected behind for a corner which was headed wide.

A first round of changes in the 58th minute from Selles saw Nelson Abbey and Jeriel Dorsett withdrawn for Amadou Mbengue and Tyler Bindon.

After a lull in the action, the next switch came 10 minutes later as Charlie Savage took the place of Craig in central midfield.

The visitors enjoyed a vast majority of the ball in the second-half, but failed to create much with it while Reading sat off and weren’t able to get a foothold.

A next change saw Ben Elliott replace Vickers for the final 10 minutes.

Reading finally broke out of their own half and had an attack of note which ended in a disappointingly tame strike from Azeez.

Savage then tried his luck with a curler from 25 yards out that caused goalkeeper Beadle no problem in the Oxford goal.

Josh Murphy had the final chance of the game when he cut in on his right boot and his effort whistled just wide of Button’s far post.

Reading’s next league outing sees them travel to ninth placed Lincoln City on Saturday.

Reading: Button, Yiadom. Abbey, Holmes, Dorsett, Craig, Wing, Knibbs, Azeez, Vickers, Smith

Subs: Pereira, Elliott, Savage, Mukairu, Ehibhatiomhan, Bindon, Mbengue

Oxford United: Beadle, Brown, Thorniley, Moore, McEachran, Mills, Brannagan, Harris, Stevens. McGuane, Murphy

Subs: Eastwood, Bodin, Bennett, Smyth, Henry, Goodrham, O’Donkor

Goals: Brown 39’, Smith 43’

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