Reading FC Match Report: 2017/2018 Season - Championship


READING 2 LEEDS 2

Reading: J Bodvarsson (16), E O'Kane (og 58)
Leeds: P Jansson (43), P Hernandez (56)

Although Reading once again failed to secure the win they so desperately need, the point gained today was achieved with a significantly more positive performance. Reading were aggressive and direct in their attacking play, took an early lead with a superbly created and finished goal from Bodvarsson in the sixteenth minute but could not take advantage of some excellent football to extend their lead and once again conceded just before half time due to sloppy defensive play. Leeds took advantage of another Reading error early in the second half only to concede within a couple of minutes when Reading equalised courtesy of an O’Kane own goal. It is easy to see why both sides are finding it so difficult to win matches recently, neither of them seemed capable of holding on to a lead.

Arguably Reading should have put the game beyond Leeds reach by half time. However a weak finish from Barrow, and a good save from Peacock-Farrell followed by a great defensive block, restricted Reading to a single goal. Reading’s opening goal was a gem. It had all the elements of good attacking and defensive play. Kelly won the ball in midfield and gave it to Clement who slipped it to Aluko. Aluko’s first time pass was perfectly guided through the United defence into the path of Bodvarsson who kept his head and stroked the ball past the advancing ‘keeper. Reading were threatening to score every time they attacked and Barrow should have added a second when he dispossessed De Bock but denied by a good save by the Leeds ‘keeper, but he really should have put it away. Peacock-Farrell came to Leeds rescue again when he somehow managed to claw away Bodvrsson’s close range effort when he was going the wrong way. It rounded off a good first half display of goalkeeping which included a finger- tipped save from a good long range strike from Evans.

The slender lead was wiped out when the Bacuna was found guilty of ball watching allowing Forshaw to slip past him to cross for Jansson to nip in for an equaliser just before half time. Once again Reading had been the architects of their own downfall. To use an old cliché, it was a good time to score from a Leeds perspective, but it knocked the stuffing out of a Reading side which had played so well to get their noses in front only to be pegged back is such a frustrating manner. In a passage of play just before the goal it was worrying to see how much time and space Reading were allowing United players to pass the ball through midfield. Things could have been even worse for the Royals when Alioski struck the post in first half stoppage time. A very lively half ended when Clement hooked a shot just wide of the post from an Evans pass.

The second half was more evenly contested but Reading were again presented United with an opportunity to take the lead which they gratefully accepted. Without any apparent danger Reading conceded possession with a stray pass on the half way line and when the ball was played to Hernandez wide on the left Bacuna stood off the Leeds forward giving him sufficient time and space to take a touch before beating Jaakkola with a curling strike form the edge of the box. The inability or reluctance to close players down, notably by Bacuna and Gunter, presented Leeds players with far too many easy opportunities to get crosses into the box or play penetrating balls into dangerous areas throughout the game. In spite of their continued habit of conceding silly goals Reading are at least showing a bit more character and resilience and within two minutes were back on level terms. Aluko (having one his best games in a Reading shirt) spun way from huis marker and fed Bacuna wide on the right who made amends for some of defensive lapses with a low strike which was deflected past the ‘keeper by O’Kane.

It was an open game and one which Reading looked more than capable of winning – or losing! Stam brought on Swift and Edwards for Evans and Clement after sixty-three minutes which in my opinion was a premature. Things were turning Reading’s way and both players were looking effective in their respective roles. Clement in particular had raised his game and appeared to have more appetite for the physical battle of central midfield. As it turned out their replacements had very little impact. As time ran out a weary looking Barrow swapped wings leaving Gunter a bit isolated on the left which exposed his limitations on the ball. There was still time for Reading to give their fans another anxious moment when their bizarre refusal to play the ball forward from free kicks around the half way line almost gifted United the winning goal. A lazy back pass from Moore put Jaakkola under pressure from Lassoga. The Reading ‘keeper dallied and was lucky to retrieve the situation when his delayed clearance struck Lassoga and spun across goal and against the post before he managed to scramble back and grab it on the line.

On reflection it was not a disastrous afternoon for the Royals who increased the gap between them and the relegation zone to six points in spite of dropping a place. They now seem to be playing with a bit more belief and the home fans responded well to their improvement which was clear for all to see. Some of the sequences of passing were as good as any you are likely to see in this league, but here is still much to work on. Defensively there are basic errors to eradicate, corners need to be used more effectively, and although fewer risks are being taken at the back, there are still too many poor decisions being made in possession around the box. They will need to sharpen up in the next two away games to have any hope of picking up a point or two.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 77 days ago in the 2017/2018 season.