Leeds 1-0 Reading: Stuart Dallas' strike sends Marcelo Bielsa's side second
By Ron Walker
Last Updated: 28/11/18 11:09am
Stuart Dallas' goal and a Bailey Peacock-Farrell penalty save gave Leeds a 1-0 home win over Reading to go second in the Sky Bet Championship on Tuesday.
Leeds flew out of the blocks against the relegation-threatened Royals, with Barry Douglas heading wide inside the opening 90 seconds at Elland Road.
Reading held their hosts and improved after a nervy opening, without ever testing the returning Peacock-Farrell too often, prompting Marcelo Bielsa into introducing Samuel Saiz and Jack Clarke at half-time.
And it paid dividends with a much-improved second-half performance, which got the goal it deserved when Dallas turned in the rebound after Roofe's close-range effort had been kept out by the impressive Anssi Jaakkola.
Leeds: Peacock-Farrell (8), Dallas (7), Cooper (7), Phillips (6), Douglas (8), Hernandez (8), Forshaw (6), Klich (7), Baker (7), Roofe (7), Aloiski (5).
Subs: Clarke (6), Saiz (7), Shackleton (6).
Reading: Jaakkola (8), Yiadom (7), Ilori (7), Moore (6), Gunter (7), Rinomhota (6), Bacuna (7), Swift (5), Kelly (6), Loader (6), Meite (5).
Subs: McCleary (7), Sims (7), McNulty (5).
Man of the match: Barry Douglas
Peacock-Farrell then made a fine stop from Marc McNulty's last-minute penalty to see Leeds sneak over the line and back above Norwich into the second automatic promotion place.
Leeds had their swagger back in the early stages after two unconvincing performances, overloading Reading and looking hungry for goals.
After Douglas' early miss, they came close again in the first 15 minutes, with Pablo Hernandez and Roofe also seeing efforts blocked.
Reading rode out the early pressure and began to play Leeds at their own game, pressing them high up the pitch. They were unlucky to see Danny Loader, on his first start, rifle an effort goalwards from a poor Peacock-Farrell punch, only for it to rebound away off Yakou Meite.
Leeds brought back Bailey Peacock-Farrell after his injury at the weekend. Lewis Baker also replaced Aapo Halme.
Four Reading changes followed Saturday's draw at Wigan, with a full debut for young England U19 striker Danny Loader the most notable.
The double substitutions had the desired effect for Leeds after half-time, and nearly led to the opener within a minute of the restart but Yiadom inadvertently cleared Saiz's header behind from Clarke's cross.
Jaakkola produced a stunning save to keep out Roofe's header from an outstanding Douglas cross from distance, diving low to his right to palm away with a strong hand.
Four minutes later, he was alert again when Douglas overlapped Hernandez and whipped in a low ball which Roofe diverted goalwards, but the rebound from his reaction stop squirmed away to Dallas who was left with a simple finish.
With that looking like the telling moment of the game, Douglas slid in needlessly on substitute Josh Sims inside the area with the winger going nowhere with less than two minutes to go, and Mike Dean pointed straight to the spot.
But Peacock-Farrell guessed the right way from McNulty's spot-kick to divert it behind for a corner, and ultimately earn Leeds what could end up a crucial victory in a tight promotion race.
Marcelo Bielsa: "We dominated the game and had more chances to score than Reading. If you take all that into account, yes we deserved to win the game.
"The most significant thing of this Championship is that each game is very difficult. You can't expect to play an easy game any week."
Paul Clement: "I think we would've warranted a draw. I'm absolutely proud of the way the players played, they did everything I asked of them.
"Leeds were hanging on at the end, they were hanging on for the win. It was a really good game, both teams were really at it, there was a lot of intensity and some interesting tactical things for both teams."
Man of the match - Barry Douglas
In spite of his late penalty misdemeanour, five key passes and what should have been at least one assist were the story of the day for Douglas, whose deliveries were as usual spot on.
For the most part, he was solid defensively, putting in four tackles on Reading players, but it was on the attack where he really proved his worth, and was easily the most impressive player in the final third on either side.
Leeds are back on Sky Sports Football this Saturday when they travel to fellow promotion chasers Sheffield United at 12.30pm. Later that day, Reading host Stoke City at the Madejski Stadium, with kick-off at 3pm.