First, let's do some SkyPad analysis of the opening goal. A deflected cross fell to Chris Wood and all seems rather simple. But, from the first screenshot, below, we note two things.
At this stage of the play, the visitors have been stretched somewhat by a Leeds left-to-right play from a throw in, drawing the four-man defence wide and allowing Joey van den Berg to slot in as Luke Moore and Tyler Blackett press the ball. However, the Royals are immediately rather deep and the red box, above, shows the area where a ball can be played to evade VDB, Paul McShane, and the static Roy Beerens. The blue box, similarly, shows where a ball can be played to Kemar Roofe, who's goalside of VDB.
The Dutchman is caught in no man's land, here. On the wrong side of Roofe and running towards goal, preventing him from clearing pretty much any ball not played directly between him and Roofe. McShane, likewise, should theoretically have the grasp of his man, Wood, but is running towards goal to make up for lost time. It's on the proviso that he can force the striker to play with his back to goal upon receiving the ball, but that's not what happens.
As we see, the ball is played into the red box, McShane is too far from Wood, VDB wrongfooted, and Chris Gunter only now coming into shot after marking for the aforementioned throw-in. A lucky deflection? Perhaps. The fact being that Reading were caught out by a quick play-the-ball.
Did the luck desert Reading?
One of the discussions floating around after Dom Samuel's soft penalty against Bristol City, as well as Beerens' various deflected strikes, surrounded Reading being 'lucky'. Well, judge for yourself if Gunter's foul is a penalty...
The crucial thing about luck, for me, is control and quality. A player can control the quality of a run, tackle, or shot, but they cannot control how the opposition reacts exactly, or how the referee reacts. Here, Gunter's made a pretty tame tackle but it's not a particularly brilliant one. Luck, however, deserts him as the referee decides it's a penalty. On another day, with another referee, Gunter gets a bit luckier, and it's not a penalty. These types of call are not something you can fully control, it's the luck of the moment, just like the one that went Reading's way against Bristol.
One key statistic hanging over the Royals is that they've lost six and drawn only three of their last nine league games when falling behind. Jaap Stam needs to address this, and one call has been to develop a plan b, away from his intricate, slower build-up, style of play. Below, we have the visitors' pass map from Elland Road. All of those red arrows are short passes (as opposed to lobs up field) that failed.
You may notice how there are quite a lot, and that's no surprise for a side possessing 77% of the ball in a Championship game. It's fair to say that it's strong evidence of our style refusing to relent despite playing 70 minutes at 1-0 down. A few more features jump out at me; firstly, we rarely lost the ball in our own half by knocking it around. A good thing, but also down to Leeds' comfortable deep defending.
More pertinent, I feel, is the creativity and intent lacking in completing the final killer ball; only two failed passes went from outside their box to inside it (alongside eight successful attempts, none of which were towards the centre of the area). For all our intricate play, it's just didn't get us into threatening, goalscoring positions.
Samuel v Kermorgant
Despite being an academy product, the figures have proved to read as every reason why Stam should drop Samuel for Yann Kermorgant post-haste. The Frenchman played exactly half the minutes as his teammate on Tuesday night, and yet he had more touches (14 to 11), won more aerial balls (2 to 0), and made the same number of passes (7). It might be time for the young forward's run in the starting XI to come to an end.
Stats from WhoScored and Squawka, screenshots from Reading FC YouTube, gif from Giphy, and my lunch from Lidl.