Andrew Johnson's late header salvaged a point for Everton against a resolute Reading side at Goodison Park.
Joleon Lescott is helpless as the ball deflects off him into his own net
The Royals took the lead when Stephen Hunt met Nicky Shorey's free-kick and after ricochets from Tim Howard and then Joleon Lescott, it trickled in.
Victor Anichebe had a header cleared off the line by Ibrahima Sonko and Johnson shot wide when clean through.
As Everton surged forward, Johnson atoned for his earlier miss and headed past the onrushing Marcus Hahnemann.
Everton, boosted by the support of guest Sylvester Stallone in the crowd, halted their rocky home form but the game was not the all-action thriller the actor would have relished.
The home side made a decent start but, despite dominating possession, they struggled to break down Reading's resistance.
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Everton boss David Moyes welcomed back Tim Cahill after a two-month injury lay-off but the Toffees sorely missed the suspended Mikel Arteta's creativity in midfield.
The only first-half chance for the hosts fell to Australian Cahill, who scuffed his close-range shot straight at Hahnemann after Johnson's cut-back.
With the game becoming increasingly scrappy and the Goodison crowd subdued, Reading seized the initiative in the 27th minute.
There was an element of fortune about the goal as Hunt's header from Shorey's free-kick ricocheted off Howard and eventually trickled over the line after Lescott's deflection.
Reading manager Steve Coppell's jubilation turned to concern five minutes later when top scorer Kevin Doyle was carried off with a suspected hamstring injury.
Everton threw on Anichebe in the second half and started the second period with more vigour and penetration.
Stallone was introduced to Goodison Park before kick-off
Cahill stung the hands of Hahnemann with a rasping drive from 20 yards, while Johnson blasted wide from similar range.
Anichebe's presence up front lifted the home side and only Sonko's goalline clearance prevented the teenager from equalising with a brave header.
The match opened up midway through the second half, with Hahnemann's goal subjected to constant pressure.
And Johnson missed a glorious opportunity to equalise on 70 minutes after being put clean through by Cahill.
The England striker lifted his effort over Hahnemann but it bounced inches wide of the left post.
Despite spending much of the second half camped in their own half, Reading continued to forge sporadic and dangerous attacks, without ever seriously testing Howard.
And the Royals looked to be escaping Goodison Park with a victory.
But, with nine minutes remaining, Johnson made up for his earlier miss and grabbed his eighth league goal of the season with a brave header.
The striker rose to meet Anichebe's flicked header and planted his effort beyond the onrushing Hahnemann.
Moyes urged his players to conjure up a winner in the dying minutes but Reading held out for a point.
Everton manager David Moyes:
"We had to chase the game after the first goal and I can't fault the players for the way we got back into the match.
"But I was disappointed we didn't go on to win it in the end.
"I wanted us to get the winning goal. We were well on the way to getting that and I still thought we could have got that second goal towards the end."
Reading assistant manager Kevin Dillon:
"I'm disappointed as I thought we deserved to win but credit to Andy Johnson, you can never write him off - he was brave in getting his goal.
"We played down one side a bit too often and I thought we could have switched our play more.
"But overall it was a terrific effort, considering we lost Kevin Doyle."
Everton: Howard, Neville, Yobo, Lescott, Naysmith, Van der Meyde (Beattie 71), Carsley, Cahill, Osman, McFadden (Anichebe 46), Johnson. Subs Not Used: Wright, Davies, Stubbs.
Booked: Cahill, Anichebe.
Goals: Johnson 81.
Reading: Hahnemann, De la Cruz, Sonko, Ingimarsson, Shorey, Little, Sidwell, Harper, Hunt, Doyle (Long 38), Lita. Subs Not Used: Federici, Oster, Sodje, Bikey.
Booked: Sonko, Hunt.
Goals: Lescott 28 og.
Ref: M Riley (W Yorkshire).