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Leeds United 3-2 Reading FC: Match Report

After Tuesday's late loss at Middlesbrough, Reading had a repeat experience with a 3-2 loss at Elland Road. Here's Matt Morris' take on the game.

Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

I'm still not quite sure which emotion to feel after that match. Disappointment? We conceded another late goal to make it three defeats on the bounce, but our season's already over, so I barely reacted to it. Anger? Most of the players actually put a good shift in and battled, so I can't fault them too much. Reassurance? We did look stronger and created good chances, but silly mistakes once again cost us a game. No, I think overall most people took this one as a bonus game, albeit one that ended up being pretty entertaining.

Brian McDermott continued with the somewhat controversial diamond formation, albeit with a plethora of changes to cover the injuries and suspensions following a costly night in Middlesbrough. McCleary and Taylor slotted in at full-back and Michael Hector came in to partner Jake Cooper at centre-half in a new-look defence, with George Evans replacing Danny Williams for only his second game since joining in January. The devastating combination of suspensions, loan restrictions and injuries meant we could only name four senior players on the bench, with youngsters Aaron Kuhl, Tennai Watson and Josh Barrett making up the numbers for the trip to Yorkshire.

First half

Leeds immediately jumped into life, and within the first minute Stuart Dallas had taken a shot at goal, although luckily it was off-target. Minutes later, a tricky ball into the box created a moment of pressure and Jake Cooper was on hand to clear the ball off the line. Reading responded, however, and whilst the game did become a bit niggly in the middle, they created a number of decent opportunities, with Simon Cox just firing straight at Silvestri in a one-on-one before beating a few players and failing to hit the target.

Eventually the visitors got the breakthrough that they were looking for. Cox again battled hard to win a free kick out left, and Norwood's resulting ball into the box looked like it was heading wide before Michael Hector popped up to divert it into the back of the net. The Royals did deserve their lead, and Hector made sure to give it large to the Leeds fans behind the goal during his celebration, something that would later come back to haunt him.

Second half

Leeds boss Steve Evans clearly laid into his players during the break, because they looked like a different side after the match restarted. Within minutes, Gaetano Berardi had freedom of the right wing, and with Taylor nowhere to be seen he whipped in a cross to meet the gigantic Toumani Diagouraga, who duly nodded it home to put the hosts level. It was a frustrating goal to concede, and Leeds duly smelt blood, with Chris Wood almost putting them ahead minutes later.

Reading regrouped, and after another scrappy period almost went ahead themselves after Cox played Piazon in, but the loanee couldn't find the target. Not long later, Charlie Taylor's cross from the left wing found Reading's players completely static in the box, allowing Wood to easily find space and get his head on the ball, bouncing off the top of the post and in past Al-Habsi. You could see the Royals' heads drop, but unlike the rest of this season they didn't collapse, and instead went on to try and get themselves back in the game.

McDermott took the initiative and brought Deniss Rakels on for George Evans, dropping Cox back to a midfield role, and this attacking change led to three good chances in as many minutes following the goal. Norwood, Quinn and then Rakels all had chances to bring the visitors back in the game but none of them could hit the target.

However, ten minutes later Reading managed to get the equaliser. Cox received the ball in the box, hit the bar, and the rebound fell to Quinn. The midfielder then found Rakels just a few yards from goal, who managed to slot home, much to the displeasure of the United players, officials and fans, who bizarrely thought it to be offside.

This was all to be for nothing, though, as just minutes later Leeds scored the most route-one of all route-one goals. Goalkeeper Marco Silvestri kicked the ball upfield, Norwood knocked it back to our defence, Jake Cooper slipped and Chris Wood was suddenly clean through - unsurprisingly he finished comfortably and the game swung back in the hosts' favour. I'd have been annoyed with the late winner had we not seen it so many times already this season, and as the Royals struggled to gain any ground in the last ten minutes the match faded out before the referee called time on yet another Reading defeat.

Closing thoughts

A third defeat in a row would probably imply a team with no hope, but the display was still reassuring. A home game to Hull awaits on Tuesday, which looks like the toughest game we have left, although after two strong away performances we may still have a chance against the Tigers.