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Leeds v Reading: Match Preview

Reading travel to Elland Road to face Leeds United on Wednesday evening; Phil Owtram previews the action.

Jordan Mansfield

Leeds v Reading
League Championship
Wednesday 1st October 2014, KO 7:45PM
Elland Road
Referee: Tony Harrington

Reading (11th)
Form (all comps): DLLWW
Reading v Wolves: 3-3
Derby v Reading (league cup): 2-0
Sheffield Wednesday v Reading: 1-0
Reading v Millwall: 3-2
Reading v Fulham: 3-0

Sunday’s tumultuous draw against Wolves at the Madejski Stadium extended the Royals’ unbeaten run at home to three games and earned them a valuable point against a side that will most likely be in the top six come May. Wolves boasted the best defensive record in England going into the game - after conceding just three goals in eight games – but Reading soon set about putting the Wolves defence under pressure with some high tempo pressing that saw them dominate the first half and go into the break with a 1-0 advantage thanks to a Michael Hector header. If the first half had been comfortable for the Berkshire side the second half was a completely different story. Two goals soon after the break saw the match turned on its head and it was Wolves that were in the ascendancy but in unpredictable fashion Reading equalised after a swift counterattack which finished with Jake Taylor slotting through Carl Ikeme’s legs. The game finished with a topsy turvey last ten minutes which saw Wolves regain the lead when Nick Blackman helped a corner into his own net only for Glenn Murray to send the Madejski Stadium into raptures when his deflected shot rescued a point for the Royals in the 89th minute.

Reading now turn their attention to their match against Leeds United at Elland Road on Wednesday evening. The Royals sit in 11th, two places above their opponents, two points off the play-off positions and six adrift of the leaders Nottingham Forest. They will be looking to build on what was ultimately a valuable point against a good Wolves side who are vying to be the first side to achieve back to back promotions  to the Premier League following back to back relegations.

Leeds (13th)
Form (all comps): LWWDW
Brentford v Leeds: 2-0
Leeds v Huddersfield: 3-0
Bournemouth v Leeds: 1-3
Birmingham v Leeds: 1-1
Leeds v Bolton: 1-0

Leeds have had an unsettling start to the season, after the surprise managerial appointment of Dave Hockaday as replacement for Brian McDermott in the summer the former Forest Green manager was dismissed after only six games in charge. The club has subsequently appointed 46-year-old Slovenian Darko Milanic who quit as manager of Sturm Graz to take over the Elland Road hot seat and becomes Leeds first non-British or Irish manager. His first game in charge was against Brentford on Saturday and he saw Leeds slip to a 2-0 defeat, not a good start for a manager looking to meet the high expectations of eccentric Leeds owner Massimo Cellino. The Italian sat amongst the away fans at their match against Brentford and will hope it is third time lucky in terms of managers that have served under him since his purchase of Leeds in April.

The Yorkshire club have had some good results at home in the league this season, securing nine points from a possible twelve at Elland Road with their only defeat coming against Brighton in August.  Leeds top-scorer is French striker Souleymane Doukara who the club signed from Serie B side Catania in the summer and has scored four goals so far this season. Doukara was part of a large scale revamp of the playing squad by Cellino in the close season. In total eighteen players left the club including star-striker Ross McCormack and were replaced by fourteen new additions. With so much change surrounding the club Leeds have done well to accumulate thirteen points from nine games so far this season and it will be interesting to see how Milanic fares in his first foray into English football.

Last five meetings

22 Apr 2011  Leeds v Reading       D         0-0      League Championship 
17 Dec 2011  Leeds v Reading      W        0-1      League Championship
06 Apr 2012  Reading v Leeds       W        2-0      League Championship
18 Sep 2013  Reading v Leeds      W        1-0      League Championship
11 Mar 2014  Leeds v Reading      W        2-4      League Championship

Head to Head
Leeds and Reading have met eighteen times before in all competitions with a very balanced head to head record which has seen Reading win six times, lose six times and draw six times. Despite this record, in recent seasons Reading have the far better record and are unbeaten in their last eight matches against Leeds and have not lost to Wednesday’s opponents since a Championship match at Elland Road in 2005 when they fell to a 3-1 defeat. This was in fact their only loss in eighteen years and Reading have won their last four meetings, including doing the double over them last season. The match at the Madejski saw Reading run out 1-0 winners thanks to a 90th minute Adam Le Fondre goal. As for the match at Elland Road in March, it ended in a 4-2 victory for the Royals with Garath McCleary, Royston Drenthe, Nick Blackman and Hal Robson-Kanu all getting on the score sheet to give Reading a

4-0 lead before Leeds halved the deficit thanks to goals from Matt Smith and Rodolph Austin. Midfielder Jem Karacan, who is edging closer to a return, will be glad to be sitting this one out as he has not fared well when facing Leeds in previous seasons. In two out the last three seasons the Reading academy product has suffered serious injury that has kept him out of action for long spells. In April 2012 Karacan suffered a broken ankle playing against Leeds before injuring knee ligaments in Reading’s match against Leeds in September 2013 which has kept him out of the team for over a year.

Team News
Reading: Hal Robson-Kanu was rested against Wolves on Sunday after playing against Derby in the league cup on his comeback from injury and could return against Leeds. Danny Guthrie played 45-minutes against Wolves as he too returns from injury and he could start. Stephen Kelly is close to returning but Anton Ferdinand, Jem Karacan Aaron Tshibola, and Craig Tanner will all miss out and will more likely return towards the end of October. As for Danny Williams, Garath McCleary and Shaun Cummings their dates of return are uncertain as they battle long-term injury.

Leeds: Darko Milanic may make changes to the side that lost 2-0 to Brentford on Saturday although he has no new injury or suspension worries. Defender Gaetano Berardi will sit out Wednesday’s game as he serves the second of his two match ban for his second dismissal on the season against Huddersfield.

Phil’s prediction: Leeds 1-2 Reading