Iliyman N’Diaye’s strike on the hour mark was enough for promotion-chasing Sheffield United to squeeze past a determined Reading 1-0 at the Select Car Leasing Stadium.

Making four changes to the side that lost 5-0 to Middlesbrough on Saturday, it marked former captain Liam Moore’s first involvement for almost 500 days.

Seeing much less of the ball than the visitors, the first threatening attack fell to Reading. Captain Andy Yiadom was a man possessed on the wing, beating two men before reaching the byline. Finding Shane Long, the Irishman dug out a cross but it evaded everyone in the box. It was Reading who had the first shot too, Tom Ince cutting in on the edge of the box but sending a shot wide of the far post. The Blades were on top for the second third of the half, creating chances for striker Oli McBurnie and had their own cross spin through the box without a touch, this one from Reading-born full back Jayden Bogle.

Looking to threaten on the counter-attack; Long, Andy Carroll and Ince linked up well on the halfway line to set each other free more often as the half wore on. Sander Berge forced Joe Lumley into his first save of the game shortly before half-time, bending a shot on target which the on-loan stopper palmed around the post. Yiadom and Carroll both put headers off target as the half became more open, with Ince making Wes Foderingham’s heart skip a beat as a long-distance effort curled just the wrong side of the goal.

The second half started how the first had ended, with the hosts creating more of the chances. Carroll glanced a header wide within seconds of the restart and Carroll hits the target moments later after cutting in, bending a shot into the arms of Foderingham. A back and forth match as it wore on, the Royals had a great chance of goal on the hour mark and Ince and Long linked up to drive forward. Long spotted Carroll, unmarked, at the back post but his final pass was intercepted and so began the move for the winning goal. Nesta Guinness-Walker’s lax defending let in McBurnie. Upon reaching the byline, his cutback was met by N’Diaye at the front post where the Senegal star slotted past Joe Lumley.

Trailing the game despite playing well on the whole, the Royals continued to do more of the running and looked dangerous on occasion. Yiadom flashed a powerful shot wide with 15 minutes to go and Foderingham had to be on top form to deny Carroll from Guinness-Walker’s deep cross. Still posing a threat, former Reading striker Billy Sharp saw a smart effort saved by Lumley and the game remained on a knife-edge until the referee blew for full-time.

Only a fourth home defeat of the season, it makes it successive defeats without scoring after Saturday’s 5-0 hammering at the hands of Middlesbrough.