Olise showed his class
It can be difficult for any player to be told they are starting five minutes before the game when they were expecting to only be on the bench, but Michael Olise took it in his stride. He was arguably Reading’s best player in the first half; it looked like he was brimming with confidence and was constantly trying to get on the ball. Olise showed some flashes of brilliance, most notably when he did a roulette to go past two Leeds players.
Another thing that stood out particularly in this game was just how calm he was on the ball; he never panics and rarely do his passes go astray. Reading have got a real talent on their hands and I am sure that, if managed correctly, he can go on to become an excellent player for Reading. Senior players in the squad, such as Liam Moore, have said in recent weeks just how much Olise has matured this season. With more games to come this season and being part of another first-team preseason tour, I am sure that we will see him shine next season.
Richards still learning
Richards has been excellent recently and was for the majority of this game. However, one silly mistake went on to cost Reading. During the second half, while under pressure, rather than smacking it clear or a conceding a throw in, he tried to cushion the ball back to Moore but it went straight to a Leeds player. Then from the resulting attack United managed to score. It’s harsh to completely blame Richards as a lot happened after he gave it away but it just highlights that Richards has mistakes in him.
Although I would plead with Bowen to stick with Richards, he’s still only 22 and for me the promise he has shown this season warrants him to be our starting left back moving forward. I don’t think Jordan Obita has quite been the same since returning from his injury and Richards offers a lot more in an attacking sense which Reading will need in the next two home games.
Another good defensive display
Saturday was another excellent defensive performance by Reading; they set up very well and restricted Leeds to very few chances. Michael Morrison in particular was a rock at the back, he has been so consistent this season and has proved to be a brilliant signing. What he lacks for in terms of passing ability he more than makes up for in his overall defending ability.
I thought it was a smart move to start Rinomota more advanced in this game, stopping Phillips from playing as he is usually so key to everything Leeds do. However, when Phillips went off, Rinomota looked a bit lost so maybe he should have been swapped with John Swift at half time. Nonetheless, Reading have really established themselves as a good defensive team and are always in games, but the test will be if we can add more goals next season.
Lacking killer instincts
In the first half Reading counter attacked Leeds really well and got into some dangerous positions. But they weren’t able to make any count and in the second half struggled to get a foothold in the game after the Leeds goal. It was often Pele or Rinomhota bursting forward with the ball, who aren’t usually the players you want in those positions, but the movement off the ball wasn’t particularly great either.
Then in the dying moments, Reading’s best chance of the game fell to Moore. He could have arguably had a penalty but he did well to stay on his feet and get a shot, with the rebound eventually being blasted over by Omar Richards.
On Saturday Reading only made one substitution, much to the dismay of the Reading fans and Sam Baldock, who according to reports had an argument with Bowen. Reading were chasing the game and they had moved to a 4-4-2 when Charlie Adam was put on for Swift around the 75th minute. Many fans including myself expected Baldock to come on shortly after to add some much-needed energy and pace to the attack.
However, Bowen opted to keep Yakou Meite and Puscas up top in order to provide more of an aerial threat along with throwing Liam Moore forward late on. I don’t think this was the right choice as Baldock has proven many times that he can have a really positive influence off the substitutes’ bench. Then again, there wasn’t much to feed off during the second half so it may have not made much difference. Baldock is a top professional so I’m sure he and Bowen will make up quickly and he will be involved again against Wigan Athletic.