Leeds United 3 (Klich 14, Hernandez 22, 43)
The first half of this game was as one-sided a half as you will ever witness in the Championship. Reading, despite a recent mini-resurgence, were simply blown away by the precise one touch football Leeds were playing; football borrowed from a Leeds side that graced the top tier of English football under Don Revie all those years ago. That is no overstatement. Leeds raced into a three goal lead and barring a miracle for the home side, the game was over.
As is so often the case when a big half-time lead is created, it is difficult for the dominant side to come out for the second half and find the motivation to keep their game up at the same level; it’s often the case that a one-sided half-time score doesn’t then change further in the second half. The motivation of the losing side is the greater to “play for some pride” and to “try to win the second half” and inevitably the break is a chance for the losing side to regroup and tinker with their set up which is then better able to cope. And so it was almost the case in this game; Leeds strolled the second half and Reading upped their game such that there were times when it genuinely looked like Reading could get back in the game. Once again though, Kiko Casilla was imperious in the Leeds goal and Reading couldn’t find the goal that might have sparked an unlikely comeback. Perhaps the message got through to the Leeds players that they needed to just move up a gear too and there was a spell midway in the new half when Leeds again found their touch and threatened to build a cricket score. Sadly, our touch in front of goal went missing again and Patrick Bamford in particular missed three very good chances to build his own confidence. As it is, the sound of the home fans sarcastically chanting “Give it to Bamford” and then laughing hysterically when our number 9 fluffed his lines yet again may either knock his confidence or be the kick up the backside he maybe needs to get some shooting practise in; maybe Pablo could give him a little tuition this week on the subject.
So the second half was a pretty uninspiring football spectacle to be truthful but the memory of the first half will linger long in our minds. It is that first half performance - the sort of display we gave against West Brom - which we will need on Saturday in what now becomes the latest of several “biggest game of the season” encounters, this time with Sheffield United. With the three at the top currently sweeping all before them , it will possibly take a major clash like this one to sort out the final order and establish which of the current top three is going up automatically and which is to face the uncertain lottery of the play-offs. The prize is huge and I wouldn’t fancy the play-off chances of any of these three sides as the feeling on May 5th will be one of utter desolation.
Reading Leeds Utd
Possession 38% 62%
Shots 9 13
On Target 5 6
Corners 3 3
Fouls 17 12