I think everyone anticipated a very tough test on Tuesday night when Leeds United rolled into town, and a tough test is what Mark Bowen’s men duly got. Leeds are obviously a very, very good team and will certainly be challenging at the top end of the table come the end of the season, so Reading were always going to be up against the odds.
Reading did however nullify Leeds’ attacking quality very well up until the 87th minute when Jack Harrison nodded home from six yards to cap off a swift counter attack from the visitors after Reading squandered a free kick opportunity on the edge of Leeds’ box.
Our defensive performance is definitely something the players and Bowen will take a lot of confidence from; there is no doubt that we have been so much better defensively in recent games. But our attacking performance will also concern Bowen, because we never really looked like scoring all game.
If we are going to start climbing the table and looking up rather than down, our attacking woes are going to have to be solved sooner rather than later. The likes of George Puscas, Lucas Boye and the soon-to-return Lucas Joao are going to have to find their shooting boots.
Here’s some of the key talking points to come from the match, and how you Loyal Royals reacted to them on Twitter...
This was always one lineup decision that we all knew Bowen had to make - who was going to replace the suspended Andy Yiadom? A player who has been so valuable to our team ever since he joined in the summer of 2017.
Under Jose Gomes it would’ve more than likely been academy graduate Teddy Howe or maybe even moving Andy Rinomhota out to fill that position, but Mark Bowen opted for his compatriot Chris Gunter - another player he has brought back in from the cold.
It’s fair to say that Gunter has more than split the opinion of the Reading fanbase for a number of seasons now - but one thing you cannot doubt is his professionalism and commitment.
Some fans were happy to see him back, some not so much. However, most fans agreed on the fact that he actually had a pretty solid game and proved himself as a very good back up to Yiadom...
Gunter was actually alright tonight, I for one wasn’t too keen on him being included in tonight’s line up but he proved me wrong. Good performance from him despite the result #readingfc— chloe (@_chloerfc) November 26, 2019
Just to clarify, I hope Gunter has the game of his life. Like I have every time I’ve seen him play previously and he hasn’t. #readingfc— Will Trow (@noseypeg) November 26, 2019
Ridiculous how fans don't want Gunter to do well. Yes, he's not as good as Yiadom but he still very capable at Championship level. The disrespect to a player with 250+ caps is shocking. #readingfc— Harrison Mitchell (@harrison1871rfc) November 26, 2019
Considering alot of people were worried about no yiadom tonight I think Gunter was excellent for a player that was kicked to the side in pre season #readingfc— Jamie Cresswell (@Jamiecresswell) November 26, 2019
Personally thought that was Gunter’s best game this season #ReadingFC— Ian Anderson (@ianandy62) November 26, 2019
I’m going to own up to something and say Gunter played well. And he was a good fill in for Yidom. I will own up and say I apologise for what I have said before. #readingfc— Mark Robson (@MarkRobson15) November 26, 2019
Another game, another Ovie Ejaria masterclass. There isn’t much to be said that hasn’t already been said about Ovie, but just watching him play football is an absolute privilege - and his performance on Tuesday had both the home and the away fans purring.
In a performance where we offered very little in the offensive third - for the second game in a row - Ovie was the one who always looked like the one who was going to create something or do something special, as he so often is.
He is a true fans’ favourite, and the love was pouring in from all angles yet again for Reading’s star man after the game...
Loved all types of players for Reading over the years, but Ejaria is joining that small bunch of players that just make you laugh and hear yourself swearing at his outrageous ability#ReadingFC— Dom Josling (@DomJos101) November 26, 2019
Absolutely hilarious that we’re signing Ejaria for just £3m at the end of the season. Bargain of the century #readingfc— Jacob Potter (@pott95) November 26, 2019
Went to the game tonight expecting to come away raving about Kalvin Phillips, but Ovie Ejaria gave him the absolute runaround. Unlucky to not take a point from *arguably* the best team in the league. #readingfc pic.twitter.com/O0rG3mIH1B— Adam Goodwin (@AdamGoodwin__) November 26, 2019
I’m just enjoying having the privilege to watch Ovie Ejaria every week tbh #readingfc— Alex Dow (@AlexDow9) November 26, 2019
I really hope that the Ejaria deal is done. By far the best baller on that pitch last night and by far the best player in the championship. #readingfc— smudger (@smujjii87) November 27, 2019
Even though Reading ultimately lost the game and that’s really all that matters when you look at the league table, the Reading fans were quick to praise the overall defensive performance from the players.
It is something the Bowen has regularly stated, he wants this team to be a hard team to beat and become nastier and grittier which is something that has clearly happened - but everyone knows we still have a lot of work to do in the final third, the last two games have showed that in abundance.
Overall the fans were happy with the performance but were also left frustrated at the lack of attacking intent...
You never got that under Gomes. A solid first half performance by every single player on the pitch #readingfc— Zammo (@Zammathon) November 26, 2019
Wasn’t a bad performance in all fairness, we defended really well and was unlucky. The fact we lost by 1 goal to two top teams shows our defence is improving, just need to start scoring #ReadingFC— Harry Sands (@SarryHands) November 26, 2019
We played really well and can take a lot of positives from that performance. #readingfc— Jamie Tillen (@JamieTillen7) November 26, 2019
A decent performance from us today, don’t think we really deserved to lose. We probably had the best chance of the game when Meite just fell over in the box and we defended excellently throughout. Just typical Leeds putting away their only good chance of the game . #ReadingFC— Oli Bryant (@OliB_RFC) November 26, 2019
I obviously care that we lost but that performance huge for my confidence in us staying has grown massively. We look hard to beat. It’s just trying to create the chances to score when we are under such serious pressure. Many positives #Readingfc— Ben1871 (@Ben18712) November 26, 2019
We didnt quite put it together on the counter tonight but bear in mind we've played against a few of best CBs in the division the last two games. It probably isn't as simple as our attack has had two bad days in a row... #readingfc— Jordan Cottle (@JordanCottle) November 26, 2019
Some poor individual performances but Bowen takes the blame for me tonight. Naive to think we could sit that deep and soak up all that pressure for the whole 90 minutes. #ReadingFC— Ben (@BenParsons89) November 26, 2019
Unlucky to not get anything out of that game. A good defensive performance from the Royals but not enough to keep out Leeds. We need more upfront if we want to climb the table⚪ #readingfc— RFC (@AdamH1871) November 26, 2019
Another disappointing result ultimately and one that again highlighted where we need some more work. At the back we look very solid and organised, but sometimes when you come up against teams like Leeds - that alone isn’t enough.
A much more winnable game coming up on Saturday as we travel to Wigan Athletic.