PAUL Clement argued Reading FC looked every bit as good as promotion-chasing Leeds United at Elland Road last night.

A dramatic finish saw Marc McNulty’s late penalty saved by Leeds keeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell to deny Royals a point.

But Clement insisted a draw would have been a fair result as their three-match unbeaten run came to a frustrating end.

Stuart Dallas’ close-range finish on the hour was enough to secure the win that sent Leeds up to second in the Championship table and left Reading in 20th position with 17 points – the same as three teams below them.

Clement stated: "I’m pleased with everything apart from the result and I'm absolutely proud of the players.

“They did everything I asked for in terms of putting in a performance against one of the best teams in the division in front of nearly 30,000 fans.

"We played with courage and personality in a stadium that is very passionate. We played some good football, we defended, we ran hard.

“We did everything but score the goal that we needed. We had opportunities, and not just the penalty at the end.

"So I’m proud of the way that the players approached the game, and the disappointment is that we didn’t at least come away with a point. I think we deserved more.”

He also suggested: "Anyone watching that game not knowing which team was where in the league wouldn't have been able to tell who was second and who was near the bottom.

"Both sets of players were dead on their feet at the end, they gave absolutely everything.

"I saw Leeds, a team now second in the Championship, hanging on at the end. We were the team advancing forwards and creating chances.

"So it's a strange feeling. As a professional you want to win games and points, but that might have been one of the best games we’ve played this season."

Clement, who handed a full Championship debut to teenage striker Danny Loader, also refused to blame McNulty for his 89th minute penalty miss after fellow sub Josh Sims had been brought down by Barry Douglas.

"It was a good save and that can happen at any moment in the game when you get a penalty,” stated Clement. “It’s just at that moment it’s a real sickener.

"Marc stood up and took responsibility in a real high-pressure moment. On another day that goes in.

"Our main penalty taker was Liam Kelly but he was off the pitch. Number two was John Swift, he was off the pitch. So at that moment, the players had to sort it out amongst themselves.

"Marc had the courage to take it, he went straight for the ball. If the keeper dives the other way we have a point, but he didn't.”

He concluded: "I thought it was a really good, high-intensity game with both teams really going at it.

"We've got to continue to play with that spirit, effort and commitment and I'm sure we'll pick up results."

Royals hope to make home advantage count as three of their next four fixtures are at Madejski Stadium, with mid-table Stoke City the visitors this Saturday (3pm ko) followed by Sheffield United in fourth and Middlesbrough in third.