Town twice took the lead at the Madejski Stadium, but couldn’t hold on and had to be happy with a point against hosts Reading.
Jamie Paterson and Nahki Wells scored the goals, but in the end Town couldn’t stifle the Royals as they set out to do and sub Ola John netted an 84th minute leveller.
With Dean Whitehead suspended, Chris Powell handed a first career start to Danish 19 year-old Philip Billing as part of a new-look midfield trio. That included Kyle Dempsey, who was making his first Championship start following his summer move from Carlisle United.
The shift to 4-3-3 saw Jamie Paterson move out to the right wing – and it was the on-loan Nottingham Forest man who opened the scoring inside 70 seconds. Another incoming to the team, Nahki Wells, picked up the ball around 40 yards out and played a superb reverse pass into the path of his teammate, who strode into the area before passing the ball inside the far post.
Paterson went very close to a second barely three minutes later when the ball fell to him invitingly after a drive into the box from Harry Bunn, but goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi did well to claim his powerful low volley.
Reading gradually found a foothold in the game and attacking left back Jordan Obita’s deflected shot ran inches wide of Steer’s far post before a set piece brought about the equaliser. It was former Town midfielder Oliver Norwood who ran across to Town’s right back slot after Mark Hudson held Garath McCleary to concede a free kick and rather than crossing, the Northern Ireland international fired the ball inside the near post from an acute angle. Jed Steer will have been disappointed to have been beaten there.
The equaliser galvanised the Royals and Norwood saw a lot of the ball as Town kept a compact, tight shape, but it was the Terriers who retook the lead in the 26th minute. It was that man Wells who netted, bending his run brilliantly to stay onside and latch onto Bunn’s excellent through ball before smashing the ball comprehensively past the goalkeeper for his fourth of the campaign.
Reading’s home support grew increasingly frustrated as the Royals failed to pick their way through Town’s compact shape, with full debutant Billing using his long reach to make several excellent interceptions. The best they could muster in the first half was a late header from danger man Nick Blackman, who beat Billing to Obita’s cross but nodded invitingly into Steer’s hands.
The home side dominated the ball in the second 45 minutes as they looked for a way through, with Steve Clarke making a double change during the interval to try and make things happen. In the end it was his final sub who made the difference; Dutch international Ola John netting the equaliser after a very lively cameo full of power and dribbling prowess.
Before that, Town survived a big early scare when Hudson was adjudged to have taken the ball when tackling Vydra from behind in the area, with Steer pushing Blackman’s instinctive follow-up strike onto the post.
At the other end Hudson and Wells both had snapshots to no avail before Joel Lynch picked up a fifth yellow of the season, which will rule him out of Saturday’s derby at home to Leeds.
In the end, Town couldn’t do the defensive containing job they set out to do for the second half as sub Ola John equalised. He took advantage of some hesitation from Joe Lolley and Martin Cranie to burst down the outside of the defender and fire low across Steer and into the far corner.
Town’s team (4-3-3):
Jed Steer; Jason Davidson, Joel Lynch, Mark Hudson (c), Martin Cranie; Philip Billing, Emyr Huws, Kyle Dempsey (Tommy Smith, 88); Harry Bunn, Nahki Wells (James Vaughan, 79), Jamie Paterson (Joe Lolley, 46)
Joe Murphy, Mustapha Carayol, Murray Wallace, Flo Bojaj
Kyle Dempsey (67); Joel Lynch (77); Harry Bunn (78)