Reading FC Match Report: 2016/2017 Season - Championship
READING 1 LEEDS 0
Reading: Y Kermorgant (21)
A strike of awesome power by Yan Kermorgant in the twenty-second minute was a goal worthy of winning this keenly contested battle between two teams destined for the play-offs. After tense opening Reading took control of the match with some of the best football seem at the Madejski Stadium this season. By half time the Royals should have had the game wrapped up.
Beerens and McCleary spurned good opportunities to extend their lead with only the 'keeper to beat and Kermorgant hit the post on the stroke of half time. Predictably Leeds pushed hard for the equaliser after the interval but they lacked the subtlety to break down a resolute Reading defence. Reading dealt with a barrage of long high balls in to the box effectively and were not fazed by United's attempts to intimidate them. For all their pressure in the final stages Al Habsi had remarkably little to do. Reading deservedly took all three points from a game they might well have won more comfortably with more composure in front of goal.
A huge crowd bolstered by an impressive Leeds contingent packed into the South Stand created an atmosphere fitting for a game of such significance. Reading weakened by the absence of McShane and Van den Berg due to injury settled quickly into their passing game. Kelly played deep and worked tirelessly finding space and probing with some sharp passing in to Swift, Beerens and Williams in particular. Swift was back to his best picking out some superbly timed and weighted passes. Throughout the team Reading looked comfortable on the ball and United seemed mesmerised by the quality of their passing and movement.
The crucial breakthrough came when a desperate headed clearance fell to Kermorgant. His finish was testament to his outstanding technique as he swept the ball past Green who, to his credit, got a hand to it, but the sheer power of the strike rendered his effort futile. In the space of two minutes Reading had chances to extend their lead. Swift found Beerens with an excellent through ball but the Dutchman having controlled the ball rushed his shot and sent it high over the bar. A similarly exquisite Swift through ball found McCleary’s run but his indecision resulted in losing the chance of an early strike as Green advanced, and then he allowed the ball to run away thereby losing the chance to take it around the Leeds ‘Keeper. The final action of the half saw McCleary set up Kermorgant to shave the outside of the post form the edge of the box.
Leeds had no choice but to push forward in search of an equaliser leaving more space for Reading to exploit on the break. Kermorgant found Beerens with superb ball but once again he failed to give it the finish it deserved. In preparation for the onslaught brought on Mutch, Grabban and Oxford to deal with the high balls in to the box. Everyone stuck to their task and United could not find a way through. Moore had his hands full with Wood all afternoon but coped well. Cooper was lucky to go unpunished for treading on Oxford’s head after he had repelled yet another United attack. It was somewhat mystifying that three Reading players received yellow cards and yet Leeds, guilty of some cynical fouls, escaped without punishment. Reading’s spirit was epitomised by Williams commitment and determination late in the game with a fifty yard sprint to make a crucial block to cut out a potential Leeds scoring opportunity.
This result and performance gives Reading the momentum to reach the play-offs and possibly even the confidence to succeed. Their passing was sharper and more incisive than ever, their defending more disciplined, and the determination to succeed seems to be growing just at the right time. The fans seem to sense promotion is a realistic possibility and were right behind their team to the very end.
This Championship game took place 325 days ago in the 2016/2017 season.