Reading - Leeds (Championship) - Match Preview

Tim Keeton

The Royals are unbeaten at home so far this season, with a win against Ipswich and draws with Watford & Brighton. Whilst the Hornets might be tougher on paper, this game means far, far more - Wednesday night lights, and the exiled hero of Berkshire returning with Leeds United.

Form Guide

Reading Leeds United
D 0-0 Brighton (H) W 1-0 Bolton Wanderers (A)
W 1-0 Yeovil (A) L 0-1 QPR (H)
L  0-6 Peterborough (A) - League Cup 2nd Round W 3-1 Doncaster (A) - League Cup 2nd Round
L 0-1 Blackpool (A) W 2-1 Ipswich (A)
D 3-3 Watford (H) D 1-1 Sheffield Wednesday (H)
D 1-1 Bolton Wanderers (A) D 0-0 Leicester (A)
W 2-1 Ipswich (H) W 2-1 Brighton (H)
9th - 9 points, GD +1 6th - 11 points, GD +2

On the face of it, nine points from six games isn't a bad return for Reading - 69 points from 46 matches would have seen the Royals finish no lower than 8th in the past five seasons (though, only last year would it have been enough for a playoff spot). The frustration might come with those losses of points - we should have beaten Watford but for a deflected last-minute goal, and Brighton on paper would have been another three points. For a work in progress, that return is quite acceptable, but losses need to turn to draws, and draws to wins, as soon as possible.

A solid start for Leeds too, who see themselves just at the bottom of the playoff places. Four away matches (three in the Championship), and no defeats in those matches - the 1-0 defeat to QPR at Elland Road is the only blot in the copybook for Brian McDermott's clan. Leeds are, however, the lowest scorers in the top half of the League, with just six goals.

Head To Head

Reading have only ever met Leeds sixteen times in all competition, with six of those being draws, and United shading the wins 6-4. Despite all that, the Royals are unbeaten in the last six meetings between the sides - and we haven't conceded in the last four.

In our Championship-winning campaign of 2011/12, we did the double over the Lilywhites - Simon Church grabbed the only goal of the away leg with a second-minute lob, whilst Adam Le Fondre netted a late brace to finally secure a 2-0 win at home, a match marred by ugly tackles from Michael Brown and Zac Thompson (the latter seeing red).

Team News

As this is the second game in the space of seven days, we're likely to see a few changes to the side in order to manage the squad effectively before we head to Derby on Saturday. The only new absentee is Pavel Pogrebnyak, suspended for one match after his sending off against Brighton last time out.

That should see Nick Blackman return to the side in place of the Russian, as the Brighton match certainly proved that Adam Le Fondre can't lead the line alone. Nigel Adkins is likely to stick with the same sort of formation which started the match, with Le Fondre and Drenthe just behind Blackman up top.

We might see some rotation in the midfield too - Jobi McAnuff could come in for Danny Williams in the middle of the park, and to offer a bit more natural width than Le Fondre does; this could also see us shape up in a 4-4-2 style.

Wayne Bridge came on at half-time against Brighton and he could start this match in place of Stephen Kelly, though Adkins might stick with Kelly at home and allow Bridge to fully recover ahead of the trip to Pride Park.

For Leeds, Noel Hunt will probably lead the line on his return to the Mad Stad, whist Lee Peltier was taken off with an injury up at Bolton - either Tom Lees or Sam Byram will replace him.

Likely Lineups

Reading: McCarthy; Gunter, Morrison, Pearce, Bridge; Guthrie, McAnuff, Karacan; Drenthe, Blackman, Le Fondre

Leeds: Kenny; Lees, Pearce, Wootton, Warnock; Murphy, Austin, Tonge, McCormack; Hunt, Varney

The Ref

Neil Swarbrick will be the man tasked with the most important coin-flip in Berkshire all evening. Last year he reffed us twice - a 3-0 loss to Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, and our 4-2 victory over Fulham at Craven Cottage.

Best Odds

Reading 5/4

Draw 5/2

Leeds 11/4

The Tilehurst End Prediction

Unbeaten home side against unbeaten away side... for me, I can certainly see this being another draw. We need to get the wins on the board, no doubt, but Brian McDermott's side will be just as up for this one as Nigel Adkins' squad. 1-1 is my call.

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