The mood heading into Leeds United vs. Reading at Elland Road was one of trepidation: a win would reassure everyone that Garry Monk’s men were actually promotion material after the loss to Brighton. A loss could see us fall down as far as 10th place, with a further fall possible in a stacked Championship table. The lads in White did not disappoint on Tuesday night, as they provided a 2-0 win to the home crowd and put another strong bullet point on their promotion resumé.
Leeds has often been accused of coming out too slowly, of bunkering down and playing for the counter attack, of allowing the other team to dictate terms. When Monk announced his starting XI though, it was clear tonight would be different.
Faced with a suspended Kalvin Phillips, an injured Eunan O’Kane and Pablo Hernandez, and a not-quite-ready Liam Bridcutt, Monk inserted not-so-defensive Stuart Dallas into the mix and made no attempt to shore up the defensive midfield. The usual four started in defense, but with a combination of Vieira, Sacko, Roofe, Dallas, Doukara, and Wood, Monk made it clear Leeds were coming to attack.
Our best guess on that formation for tonight is a diamond in the middle, but we’ll see? Dallas in for Phillips shakes things up for #LUFC. pic.twitter.com/5iLmzTvpAX— Through It All #LUFC (@ThruItAllLUFC) December 13, 2016
And attack they did.
For the first 10 minutes, Leeds played constant attacking football. Hadi Sacko crossed to Chris Wood who just missed, Sacko crossed to Kemar Roofe who shot left-footed over the bar. It was the start of an attack we had not seen in the slow-starting Whites yet this season.
And in the 19th minute, it paid off.
BAHAHA OH MYYYYYY GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL SACKO TO WOOD AS YOU LIKE IT pic.twitter.com/qWYKg6bzND— Through It All LIVE (@ThruItAllLIVE) December 13, 2016
Chris Wood GOAL v Reading #LUFC pic.twitter.com/Z4s93xmeyy— #WALMOT (@WALMOT333) December 13, 2016
As we mentioned on Sunday here at Through It All Together, Chris Wood likes to score goals, and he likes to do that by picking up the pieces, being in the right place at the right time, and slotting garbage home. That he did, and Leeds went up 1-0 in the 19th.
Unfortunately, in the 33rd minute, Wood went down with a tight hamstring and had to be subbed off. On came “not quite ready” Liam Bridcutt, and the offensive lineup went back to the usual 4-2-3-1. That didn’t meant the attack was over: Dallas had a chance on net before Wood was even able to get off the pitch.
But it did mean that Leeds would revert back to their usual game of giving Reading more of the ball. They still attacked more when they had the opportunity, but the Royals dominated possession from there on out:
Leeds done a really good job so far of making Reading play in their own half. McShane and Moore forever on the ball. 1-0 on 39 mins.— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) December 13, 2016
The first half ended 1-0, and Leeds were playing inspired football. The midfield was air-tight with Dallas, Roofe, Sacko, Bridcutt, and Vieira shutting down any attempt by Reading to move on the attack.
That midfield effort continued into the second half, but Leeds brought a little more of that attacking swagger out of the locker room once again. Taylor combined with Doukara for a chance on net in the first minute of the half, but the Duke couldn’t quite reach the cross.
Then about ten minutes in, Leeds really turned it on, even without Chris Wood.
56’ A second goal must surely be coming. Sacko and Doukara and Roofe and Ayling all with chances in the last few. #MOT— Through It All LIVE (@ThruItAllLIVE) December 13, 2016
57’ Sounds like @APOPEY is about to have a heart attack. Too much pressure. But no goals from any of it. 1-0.— Through It All LIVE (@ThruItAllLIVE) December 13, 2016
Leeds danced around Reading throughout much of the second half, looking to put in the second-goal dagger, but were unable to do so.
Reading then bounced back for a bit with chances in the 68th, 76th, and 84th minutes, but they never looked like a side sitting in third place in the Championship.
I don't know what Reading are doing. Is it football? Is it hypnosis? Is it something like we've never seen?#LUFC— MoscowhiteTSB (@MoscowhiteTSB) December 13, 2016
Then finally, as the game neared the 90th minute, Charlie Taylor made a run that should be familiar to Leeds fans who’ve watched his offensive game grow this season, straight into the Reading box. He was taken down, a penalty was given, and Souleymane Doukara had a chance to put it away:
Doukara from the spot. Leeds 2 v0 Reading. #llufc pic.twitter.com/2UIOwlwuN3— LUSC (@LUSCExec) December 13, 2016
DOUKARA SCORES THE PENALTY BAHAHA 2-0 LEEDS TOP READING AT ELLAND ROAD GET INNNNNNN pic.twitter.com/CxRWh1yC8L— Through It All LIVE (@ThruItAllLIVE) December 13, 2016
This one ended 2-0, and it felt like winning a cup tie. So many fans were nervous after the loss at Brighton, and with a compact table looming, Leeds needed the three points to avoid falling back to mid-Championship obscurity.
Instead, an emphatic, dominating 2-0 win over third place Reading means we’re likely here to stay, and provided Chris Wood isn’t too injured and we can add some depth in the January window, #Promotion2017 might actually become a reality after all. MOT.