Reading started a tough period of games with a solid performance at Elland Road, but again the lack of killer touch shone as they fell to a 1-0 defeat. Not many people have said this so far this season, but Clement got his tactics spot on on Tuesday night, adopting the same narrow 4-3-3 he did against Wigan. In the first half especially, Reading managed to nullify any threat that Leeds posed.
Defensively sound and causing a few problems on the break against one of the top teams in the division, Reading were looking good for a point until a scrappy Stuart Dallas goal midway through the second half.
And then - in the 89th minute - substitute Josh Sims was fouled in the area, and goalless Marc McNulty stepped up to gain a well earned point for the Royals. Only to be denied by Bailey Peacock-Farrell, in what you feel could be a huge moment in our season.
Here’s how the fans reacted to some of the key talking points from Tuesday nights game...
I think the majority of the fans were expecting the worst heading to Elland Road, but the Royals put in a very respectable performance. The narrow 4-3-3 didn’t really work on Saturday against Wigan, but it did against Leeds.
Clement chose the right personnel in the right areas with Loader and Swift deployed further up the pitch behind Meite, with much more steel in midfield with the reintroduction of Leandro Bacuna.
Leeds caused few problems, especially in the opening 45. And in the second half, Reading hung on and limited them to very few clear cut chances. It was definitely a performance to be proud of, but also needs to be matched with results sooner rather than later. Here’s what the fans had to say about the performance.
That was a good performance, let down by a couple of individuals. So frustrating #readingfc— tilehurst royal (@tilehurstroyal) November 27, 2018
That's a pleasing performance tbh. Held our own against one of the best sides in the league. Rinomhata outstanding today imo. #ReadingFC— Sam (@SamJ_RFC) November 27, 2018
Can’t remember many better performances than that #readingfc— Pervy Wink (@MadStadBlues) November 27, 2018
One of the biggest criticisms fired towards Clement has been the lack of academy products being brought through into the first team. But you do have to give credit to the way he’s bled Loader and Rinomhota into the first team setup.
Rinomhota looks a class act. Comfortable on the ball, tireless and tenacious - filling that enormous Danny Williams shaped hole that’s been missing in our midfield ever since the American left for Huddersfield. Rinomhota was very impressive against Leeds, and has looked more than at home in the Championship ever since his first start against Bristol City.
Danny Loader got his first start for Reading also, and showed glimpses of the obvious quality he has. He looked hungry and strong, and showed he could be an important player for the Royals. There’s nothing the Reading fans love more than one of their own coming through the system, and the future looks bright within our academy.
Rinomhota and Loader look excellent and putting others to shame #readingfc— Lee Wyeth (@leewyeth) November 27, 2018
With performances from the young lads like that tonight, it’s a wonder why we we recruited so many average players in the summer. Trim the squad & persist with these younger talented players #readingfc— Jeff H (@jeffhallett) November 27, 2018
Andy Rinomhota looked great tonight, very positive performance, Loader done well too, definitely want to see more Academy players in the first time squad! Need young and hungry players in the team now! #readingfc #urrrrrzzzzz— James (@B3rt1e) November 27, 2018
Just like at Aston Villa earlier in the season, it looked like Reading had found a way to grab a point after a solid defensive performance. However, unlike Sam Baldock, Marc McNulty couldn’t convert his last-minute spot kick.
In fairness, it was a fantastic save from Peacock-Farrell, but at this stage in the season, with where we are in the table, it’s a chance that really had to be taken. Fair play to former Coventry City man for stepping up, but if I were Bacuna or McCleary, McNulty wouldn’t be getting near that ball.
The Royals just have to hope that that moment doesn’t come back to bite them later on in the season. It was certainly the biggest talking point on Twitter after the game...
You cannot slate McNulty. Yes I agree he wouldn’t be my first choice penalty taker but he can’t have struck it much better, great save by their keeper. #readingfc— Jacob Potter (@pott95) November 27, 2018
Really feel bad for Mcnulty was a great penalty and a chance to get his confidence up☹️ #readingfc— adot (@Alfie_Eaton01) November 27, 2018
No issues with McNulty wanting to take that penalty. It’s a striker’s job to score goals. I’d be more upset if he didn’t want to take it. #readingfc— Thomas (@blickbuster) November 28, 2018
Overall, a tough one to take. But a performance that needs to be backed up with results. It doesn’t get any easier with Stoke visiting the Mad Stad on Saturday afternoon, but I’m sure there will be confidence within the squad.
It’s a game where we really need three points, or else we are in danger of sliding away from the rest of the pack and finding ourselves in deep trouble.