Reading FC Match Report: 2018/2019 Season - Championship
READING 0 LEEDS 3
Leeds: M Klich (14), P Hernandez (22), P Hernandez (43)
Taking on Leeds looking for three points to go top of the league with a team significantly weakened by injuries presented a severe test of character and resilience for The Royals, and although losing by three goals at home is never a good thing, with so many key players missing, and teams around Reading also losing, it made little difference to the relegation battle. In fact to get this fixture out of the way without losing ground on their immediate rivals was not a bad outcome for The Royals. Leeds had the game won by half time with three well taken goals and for a while it looked like Reading were heading for an even bigger defeat than Theresa May. United however could afford to keep something back for their bigger battle against third placed Sheffield United on Saturday, and with a better second half performance Reading limited the damage to their goal difference.
Reading came out of this game with morale in tact given the changes Jose Gomes was forced to make. East made his debut in midfield, and with Loader playing up front and Olise coming on in the second half the team had a youthful and inexperienced look about it. It was not an ideal match for East to make his debut and at times he looked a little over-awed by the occasion, although he did show he is capable of passing the ball well.
Leeds did not look entirely secure at the back but Reading were not able to take advantage of a slight initial edginess in their play. Yiadom posed the greatest threat to Leeds making positive runs at the heart of the Leeds defence forcing a save from Casilla when it might have been better to get his head up and cut the ball back for someone in a better position in the box. Reading were struggling to get a grip in midfield. Roberts was booked for an ugly late challenge on Swift who was not coping well with the responsibility of being the main play maker. He had a poor half overall, running into trouble and giving the ball away with some sloppy passing.
Leeds took the lead after fourteen minutes when Bamford deceived the Reading defence by stepping over a cross allowing the ball to run on for Klich to calmly side past Martinez. Good goal but might have been prevented if Barrow had tracked the run of his man better and not missed his tackle before the cross came in. Leeds second was taken extremely well but came from a stray pass from East allowing Ayling to slide the ball into Hernandez who turned smartly and squeezed his shot in off the post. Meite had a good chance to pull a goal back on thirty-seven minutes but swung a leg across the line of the ball and scuffed his shot badly. The crucial third goal came when Bamford found Hernandez in space with a cross field pass. Blackett didn’t get tight enough and Hernandez took full advantage with a superb long range strike which gave Martinez no chance.
Reading fans must have feared things would only get worse in the second half but they must be given credit for being positive and trying to play their way back into the game. They needed a bit of luck and it nearly came in the fifty-fourth minute when Ayling, already on a yellow card, cynically blocked Barrow’s run as he went past him. It was clear second yellow but as someone in the stand behind me correctly pointed out, “the referee bottled it”. It was almost an admission of guilt when Ayling was immediately substituted. Swift began have a more positive influence on play, and Baker, with a point to prove to his former employers, was working hard a holding midfield role. Loader was ineffective against a very experienced Leeds back four and must have very disappointed when he had a chance to put East in on goal, but mistimed a simple short pass completely ruined the opportunity.
With just under thirty minute remaining Gomes brought on Harriott for East giving the Reading attack a better balance with Meite playing through the middle and Barrow and Harriott out wide. It did not produce goals and Leeds were content to sit back and hit Reading on the break which they nearly managed successfully on a couple of occasions. There were few signs of disapproval of the second half performance for the home fans. The mood was lightened by an appalling hat trick of misses by Bamford. First with only Martinez to beat pulled his shot so far wide it went out for a throw-in. He followed that with a complete air shot from twelve yards and then dragged another shot wide when played in with a good ball behind the Reading defence. “Give it to Bamford” taunted the Reading fans behind the goal. Thankfully he obliged by not scoring a fourth goal for Leeds as did Hernandez to keep the score respectable allowing Reading to consolidate their spot in the table at least until the weekend.
This Championship game took place 220 days ago in the 2018/2019 season.