YAKOU Meite snatched a late equaliser with his sixth goal in five games as Reading FC climbed out of the Championship drop-zone with a spirited 2-2 draw with Ipswich Town.

A clash between two of the division’s bottom three clubs before kick-off ended honours even at Madejski Stadium.

Paul Clement’s men were looking for back-to-back league wins for the first time since last December following the 3-2 victory over Bristol City a week ago.

Once again they fell short in that department, but still managed to avoid defeat to Paul Lambert’s improving Tractor Boys thanks to a Meite brace.

Clement expected this to be Reading’s hardest game of the season ­­- and he was not far wrong.

Ipswich belied their position at the bottom of the table and played some attractive football, particularly in the first half when they were dominant side.

But Royals deserve credit for sticking to their task and producing a strong finish to snatch a draw.

The day started horribly for the hosts as Gwion Edwards fired Ipswich into a fifth-minute lead only for Meite to equaliser two minutes later with a spectacular overhead kick.

However, Freddie Sears regained the lead for Lambert’s side on 11 minutes, only for Meite to strike again six minutes from time to lift Reading up to 21st in the table going into a fortnight’s international break.

Meite had been a doubt before kick-off with an ankle problem, but he passed a late fitness test much to Clement’s relief.

Royals’ boss made just one change from the side that beat Bristol City with fit-again keeper Anssi Jaakkola recalled in place of Sam Walker.

Jaakkola, though, was soon picking the ball out of his own net after Ipswich took the lead less than five minutes in following a sloppy start from the hosts.

Royals could only half clear an long throw-in by Jonas Knudsen and Edwards beat Jaakkola at his near post with a low volley from the edge of the box.

But it took just two minutes for Clement’s men to issue a dramatic response.

Baldock found room down the left before dinking over a cross to Meite who, with his back to goal, directed a dazzling bicycle kick past Bartosz Bialkowski and in via the near post.

Reading, though, were still basking in the glory of a goal-of-the-season contender when Ipswich regained the lead in the 11th minute.

Bialkowski’s long ball down the middle caused a mix-up at the back, an error compounded when Jaakkola then slipped allowing Sears to slot home and put Lambert’s men back in front.

It was a disastrous start for Royals who, to add to their frustrations, saw Mo Barrow booked for diving in the opposition’s box.

Ipswich looked nothing like the side that has been languishing at the bottom for most of the season.

It needed a crucial, one-handed save from Jaakkola to keep out a Jordan Roberts header to prevent the visitors from extending their lead.

Town skipper Luke Chambers then headed narrowly over from a corner with the home defence at sixes and sevens.

Reading offered little in response at that stage as Ipswich continued to carve out decent chances.

They threatened again eight minutes before the break when an angled shot from the lively Roberts was beaten away by Jaakkola.

Ipswich had bossed the first half so Clement made a change at the break and replaced Andy Rinomhota with Garath McCleary.

Royals went agonisingly close to equalising in the 53rd minute when Bialkowski made an incredible save to deny Barrow from point-blank range after ping-pong in the Ipswich box following a corner.

The hosts then butchered a decent chance when Meite and Baldock left the ball for each other in the Town penalty box, allowing the visitors to clear.

Ipswich began to sit deeper as Royals built up some momentum – only for the final pass to desert them.

The visitors also threatened in the 75th minute as Jordan Spence cut inside only for Jaakkola to make a save at his near post.

Clement tweaked things again with 15 minutes to go by replacing O’Shea with John Swift and reverting to a back three.

And just when it looked Reading had run out of ideas they found an equaliser six minutes from time.

It was pretty direct stuff as Leandro Bacuna picked out Meite with a ball from the deep and the striker guided a precise header past Bialkowski without breaking stride.

The Madejski Stadium erupted as the home fans began to sniff a dramatic late victory for their side.

It almost came in the 90th minute when McCleary teed up Baldock, but he lashed one over the top from 12 yards when he should have hit the target.

Then moments later the pair linked up again but with the same result, Baldock scooping his shot over from McCleary’s assist.

It was not the result Reading wanted, but it could have been worse.

And Clement now has two weeks in which to work with his squad before they return to Championship action with a trip to Wigan Athletic two weeks today.

Reading FC: Jaakkola, Blackett, Moore (c), O'Shea (Swift 77), Yiadom, Kelly, Rinomhota (McCleary 46), Bacuna, Barrow, Baldock, Meite. Subs not used: Walker, Gunter, Aluko, Ilori, McNulty. Booked: Barrow 13.

Ipswich Town: Bialkowski, Knudsen, Chambers ©, Pennington, Chalobah, Edwards, Skuse, Spence, Roberts (Jackson 59), Sears (Rowe 82), Downes. Subs not used: Gerken, Donacien, Dozzell, Edun, Lankester. Booked: Chambers 45, Spence 86.

Referee: Darren Bond.

Attendance: 14,952 (Ipswich 1,887).