Playing in front of 18,124 fans on Tuesday night at Madejski Stadium, Leeds United defeated Reading FC 2-0 in Championship play. Luke Murphy broke the deadlock in the 63rd minute with a long-range strike and Sam Byram capped off the scoring with a back post header in the 90th minute.
The Whites controlled the tempo throughout the match's entirety, displaying a fine away performance. With three points in hand, Leeds now sit in 17th place with 35 points and are enjoying a strong stretch of games. Neil Redfearn's side is now 3-1-2 in their last six matches and have collected 11 of 18 possible points.
1.) Byram and Murphy's Form: At the center of Leeds' return to form has been central midfielder Luke Murphy and right midfielder Sam Byram. On Tuesday night the two were lively yet again and left their stamp on the match. Murphy's 63rd minute strike procured flashbacks of his screamer against Bournemouth and earned Leeds some breathing room away from home. Also, Byram displayed supreme awareness of space and an understanding of what the game required to head home in the 90th minute. Both are in fine form and Redfearn's post match comments show just how much the club values their importance.
Redfearn says Murphy is "playing out of his skin at the moment & tonight was no exception". Also describes Byram as "such a talent". #lufc— Leeds United FC (@LUFC) February 10, 2015
2.) Bellusci and Bamba Pairing: While there were many concerns in the season's early-goings about Leeds' defensive security, the Whites appear to be solid at the back now. Giuseppe Bellusci and Sol Bamba are a big reason for that, and Tuesday's victory over reading showed exactly why. The pairing knew when to get stuck in, understood how to cover for the other, and were great in the air. They marshaled the defense brilliantly and allowed Marco Silvestri to enjoy a relatively comfortable evening. While Liam Cooper will surely be vying for a place in the starting eleven again, Redfearn seems to think that Bellusci and Bamba are bordering irreplaceable territory.
Redfearn hails the centre-back pairing of Bamba & Bellusci as the "bedrock of the performance" - "They read the play really well." #lufc— Leeds United FC (@LUFC) February 10, 2015
3.) The Kids Are Alright: As influential as Byram and Murphy were, Lewis Cook and Casper Sloth were arguably just as important. Cook put in another brilliant performance and was tidy on the ball. As for Sloth, he was subbed in during the first half to replace the injured Tomasso Bianchi. Judging from Sloth's performance though, you would have never guessed that he started the game on the bench. He played a role in both goals and made a strong case for future inclusions.