Reading held promotion-chasing Peterborough United to an enthralling 2-2 draw in a feast of festive League One action.

Falling behind twice, Sam Smith and Femi Azeez took their chances and earned a valuable point at Weston Homes Stadium.

In a match between two sides determined to play some football, it was an entertaining if not quiet opening spell. The hosts had the first sight of goal when the ball was given away in the Reading box, but Mason-Clark’s dinked cross was caught with ease by David Button. Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan, the only change to the starting side in place of Sam Smith, had a rare sight of goal in the early stages out on the right, but he opted to return to ball inside for Harvey Knibbs. The midfielder saw Femi Azeez out the corner of his eye, but a big sliding challenge prevented the ball from reaching the winger and the chance came to nothing.

Azeez was bright throughout and last week’s scorer decided to take on the team himself, running the length of the pitch before looking up and curling a cross into the box. Almost reaching Ehibhatiomhan, the ball was nodded for a corner which eventually came to nothing. From the half-hour mark onwards the Posh dominated proceedings and it felt like only a matter of time before the net bulged. Mason-Clark came closest first, smacking the woodwork with a fierce shot, but it was Knight who headed home seconds later when left unchallenged from a simple corner routine. Archie Collins and Hector Kryprianou would both have wanted to do better with minutes ticking down, not even challenging Button with their high and wide efforts.

Continuing where they left off in the first half, Peterborough came out the traps fast and forced Button into a save within 90 seconds as Mbengue was dispossessed on halfway and the attack swarmed forward. Smith was brought to the fold within 10 minutes of the restart and looked to make himself a nuisance. The game was nearly over on the hour mark when the ball was in the back of Reading’s net again, but the flag ruled it out and seemed to add some spark into the Royals as they had a spell of their own.

Kwame Poku nearly headed in at the back post, but up the other end of the pitch Lewis Wing sprayed a delightful pass out to Azeez, and the winger drilled a cross toward goal. Smith was jogging on the spot at the front post to get the slightest of touches, evade the goalkeeper and wheel off celebrating as Reading had snatched an unlikely equaliser. It looked even better for the Royals moments later as Azeez spun and hit a powerful effort from 30 yards, only for his strike to crash off the crossbar and away. All coming in a hectic 15-minute spell, the Posh regained the lead through Mason-Clark when he drilled a shot in at the near post sending Button the other way with his eyes. Keeping their noses in the game into the closing stages, Smith nearly saw his bicycle kick loop into the net from Azeez’s cross, while Harrison Burrows came close to doing the same in the final 10 minutes, the left-back’s speculative effort dropping just wide of the post.

 There was still time for one last sting in the tail, as Azeez connected perfectly with a Clinton Mola cross to loft a strike into the top corner and earn a dramatic late point. Hoping to carry this momentum forward, the Royals face to crunch relegation clashes against Cheltenham Town and Exeter City in the next week.