|Leeds United 1 v 0 Reading|
Barclays Premier League
Tuesday, 27th November 2018 Kick-off 19:45
Peacock-Farrell saves the three points for Leeds
Wednesday, 28th Nov 2018 13:53 by Tim Whelan
Three days after the game for which he was told he would have been dropped, Bailey Peacock-Farrell bounced back with a penalty save that secured our win over Reading.
Marcello Bielsa made two changes to his starting line-up for this game, with both of Saturday’s debutants dropping to the bench. Peacock-Farrell was back from injury and was allowed to replace the even more inexperienced Huffer, while Baker began the game in midfield, with Halme missing out and Phillips moving back to central defence.
Leeds began brightly and should have gone in front in the first two minutes, as a cross from Hernandez found it’s way through to the unmarked Douglas at the far post, but once again the full-back could only send his header wide. Meanwhile, Sky’s mute button man was also called into action very early, to deal with the first rousing chorus of “Sky TV is f******* s***”.
After 11 minutes there was another moving tribute to Gary Speed to commemorate the seventh anniversary of his passing, and the chances kept coming for Leeds, and in particular Kemar Roofe . First a defender got in the way to deny him a spectacular goal from a scissors kick, then he headed narrowly wide from an excellent inswinging Douglas free kick.
But as the half wore on there were signs that Reading might post the occasional threat at the other end. Peacock-Farrell was almost caught out by a free kick from distance and opted to palm the ball over the bar rather than risking an attempt to catch it when he was off-balance. Then an effort from Loader was deflected by Meite, but thankfully spun wide of the post while BPF was committed to diving for the original shot.
At the other end the much-maligned Alioski wasn’t having a great evening. First he was caught offside (yet again) when a shot from Roofe was deflected into his path, and couldn’t beat the keeper anyway. Then just before the break he, er, lost his footing as he was about to be tackled in the box, and collected a yellow card for his trouble.
At half time Bielsa put the Macedonian out of his misery as half of a double substitution, with Baker the other man to be withdrawn after failing to match the lively contribution he made on Saturday. Saiz and young Jack Clarke were the replacements, with Clarke operating on the right flank, with Hernandez switching across to the left.
We seemed a lot livelier for their introduction, and the two subs almost combined to open the scoring in the first minute of the second half. Hernandez picked out Clarke with an excellent diagonal ball, and Saiz was onto Clarke’s cross only for the ball to be scrambled wide by the Reading defence.
Another chance came when Roofe met a Douglas cross and headed the ball back in the direction Jaakkola had come from, only for the Reading keeper to turn and make an excellent save.
But finally our persistence paid off on the hour mark. Roofe met yet another Douglas cross and as Jaakkola saved at Roofe’s feet and the ball ran free, Dallas was on hand to whack it into the net. The sense of relief was palpable, and for once Bielsa let his emotions get the better of him as he jumped off his bucket to celebrate.
Leeds kept pressing to try to kill the game off and Clarke was showing plenty of tricks, though occasionally I thought he was trying to beat too many players and lost possession when a simple pass would do. From one breakaway he missed an easy opportunity to slip the ball to an unmarked Saiz, and the feisty Spaniard made his frustration perfectly clear when Clarke was tackled rather than playing him in.
The final substitution saw Klick replaced by Shackleton on 75 minutes, which seemed a bit pointless and a little risky (I’m not a great fan of using all subs with that much time left) but perhaps we needed a bit more energy. Meanwhile Reading made a couple of positive changes of their own, and with only a one goal lead there was always the danger they might sneak an equaliser right at the end.
And so it nearly came to pass, with a clumsy tired challenge from Dallas catching Sims in the box, and Premiership referee Mike Dean pointing to the spot. Yet when McNulty stepped up to hammer the penalty towards the corner, Peacock-Farrell went the right way and pulled off an excellent save. If Bielsa was looking to gee him up by telling him he would have been dropped on Saturday, this certainly had the desired effect!
The celebrations on the touchline almost caused a spat after one of the Leeds staff ran a bit too close to the Reading technical area, but it all got sorted before it got too out of hand. Although Paul Clement alleged later on TV that a bottle had been thrown, though didn’t say whether it came from the Leeds bench or the crowd.
And that was about it, with Leeds managing to play out the remaining time and claim the three points. In truth this was a little similar to Bristol City on Saturday, with Leeds struggling to break down moderate opposition for long spells. They were both matches when we could have dropped points, only for key events to go our way (the sending off on Saturday and the penalty last night).
We will have to better against the stronger teams in this division, yet we finished the night by rising to second and closing in on the leaders after Norwich and Middlesbrough both drew. So for now, we can be content with the three points.
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