Leeds were in decent form at home against Reading but were denied three points by a fantastic performance from young Reading goalkeeper Alex McCarthy as the game finished goalless.

Simon Grayson recalled captain Richard Naylor for his first start since October. Paul Connolly started at right back while Eric Lichaj switched to the left. A midfield pairing of Jake Livermore and Bradley Johnson was chosen while Billy Paynter was given a chance up front. The match also saw the return of ex-White Ian Harte to Elland Road. Thankfully he had a quiet night.

The visitors probably edged the first half though it was Leeds who had the better chances. A great cross from Jake Livermore was met by Robert Snodgrass’ head, it was destined for the goal but for a terrific acrobatic save from McCarthy – the first of many.

The next best chance of the half came from Max Gradel as the Ivorian robbed Reading defender Khizanishvili before shooting a low, hard dipping drive at McCarthy who was able to make contact and watch as the ball squirmed agonisingly wide of the post.

The defence was holding up surprisingly well but we were looking a bit shaky in the centre of midfield. Jake Livermore was booked for a rash late challenge and, after dwelling on the ball too long and diving into another tackle, he could have seen red. In truth, it would have been a harsh dismissal. Livermore was replaced at half time by Neil Kilkenny.

Leeds started much brighter in the second half, putting in some good early crosses and passing it around better. We were beginning to put on more pressure and the fans were raising the volume inside Elland Road. Again though there were glimpses of poor defending from Leeds as a flashed cross went untouched and unchallenged six yards out and Gradel let their right back walk right past him and smash a shot wide. More worryingly, was the pace at which Johnson was moving – he was like a statue in the middle of the park but that could have been forgiven as he seemed to remember he had legs and set off cantering from the half way line with the ball and, getting a lucky bounce, found himself through on goal. His stabbed left foot shot crashed off the bar. The closest Leeds had come.

Reading began to get into the game a bit more but we were restricting them well. The defence were coping decently on the whole and Naylor, although yellow carded and occasionally troubled by Shane Long, played very well. It was our central midfield that was the problem; they were far too slow and didn’t provide enough cover for the defence. On one ocassion both Kilkenny and Johnson got dragged out to the left side, allowing Leigertwood to move unpressured and strike just wide from distance, much to Kasper Schmeichel’s anger.

On the whole, Leeds were looking the more likely to score and Simon Grayson reacted with two positive changes; bringing Davide Somma on for Paynter and Sanchez Watt on for Jonny Howson.

It was Snodgrass though who went close again. Somma fed a good ball to Gradel who crashed a shot at McCarthy before latching onto the rebound and crossing for Snodgrass whose free header was denied by the scrambling keeper. He really should have scored but the attempt was at a comfortable height for the keeper. Our final chance came as Kilkenny dinked a smart pass over the defence, leaving a 50-50 challenge between Watt and McCarthy. The ball bounced and Watt could have grabbed the winner but lost his footing attempting a flick when he really needed to show some composure.

It wasn’t to be for Leeds and the point sees us slip down to 7th following Nottingham Forest’s win earlier in the day. On reflection it was a decent performance and result as we did all we could bar score and that was down to a magnificent display of goalkeeping. To practically dominate a match against high-flying Reading having made a number of changes to the team is reassuring yet there are still problems in the defensive part of midfield that need addressing.

  • henryv

    Excellent summary once again TSS.
    The defence were as good as I’ve seen them this season. OK that is not saying a lot!!
    They all looked strong and determined.Bradley thinks he is Platini and dwells on the ball too long.
    I was expecting a lot more from Livermore, but he looks ponderous at times.
    It was a good move to take him off at half time.
    I was surprised that Simon chose Killer instead of Bannnan.
    Killer looked as if he had run the London marathon before coming on, and was ineffective for the most part.
    Jonny put plenty of effort in but could not get into the game.
    We really need Luciano back.
    Billy P gave 100% but really struggled and their defenders had an easier night than they would have expected.
    Snods and Max were our main strikers but were not at their best.
    In a way I am glad we are in the chasing pack now, and the pressure falls on lucky Notts Forest
    and Swansea.
    All to play for.
    If we could just get our form back we can still qualify.

  • The Reaper 08

    Johnson reminds me of a slightly overweight asthmatic on a very hot day and a smog filled sky running for the bus. His shot that hit the bar was poor having fluked his way through the Reading defence.

    The second Snodgrass header was also a shocker, lot’s of time and a great cross from Gradel. Weak and poorly directed.

  • I was surprised at Kilkenny coming on too. We were dying for the pace and creativity of Bannan. Johnson and Kilkenny are just both too slow to play together IMO.

    All three central players (Johnson, Livermore, Kilkenny) were taking too long on the ball, there was no zip and we were too slow all over the pitch.

    I normally remain positive but I’m feeling a lot less confident now, especially looking at Forest’s remaining fixtures – it’s hard to see them dropping points.

    • Craig

      That may have been true earlier in the season but I’m not sure Forest will relish playing two sides who are both scrapping to avoid relegation.

      • I’m not sure if I buy that. They’re in a relegation scrap for a reason. I’d much rather play teams down there than Burnley and QPR.

        Though, having said that, it doesn’t mean I’m totally confident about us getting three points against Palace.

  • Loved them diamond floodlights

    Just wish he made changes a bit quicker why 9 minutes from time you cannot get your head and body up to match pace in that time I know there is exceptions ie a player to slow the game down or a big defender etc but not fast attacking options I’m sure most of us have played the game and know that feeling of wanting to come on and do everything you end up chasing everything to show you are up for it and usually end up totally out of your most dangerous/usefull position anyway , I just don’t think 9 mins is enough I also think it increases risk of injury you don’t start your car and put your foot to the floor a few jogs up the touchline does not get you properly warm IMO

    Am I the only one a little surprised at the amount of people leaving early watford and last night is the last 10 mins not often the most exciting and nervy ?

  • Reiver

    I rather think Reading came, and were well satisfied, with a draw – they never put us under too much pressure. We’re not good enough to warrant promotion. Grayson is still a young manager, I just hope he has learned from all the mistakes he’s made this season.

    • henryv

      I think the manager and board will have to re-think their transfer policy.
      Players on loan are not a good policy.
      The odd well chosen one may be ok but it cannot be good for team spirit when loanees arrive and don’t perform.
      A smaller quality squad must be the goal.
      I can see a lot of this squad departing before next season.
      It is not fair to the loanees, as it takes a long time to settle in to new surroundings.

  • Will23

    I think the performance was relatively better, but the standards have fallen so low in 2011 that such a performance could not fail to appear to be an improvement.

    That said, the improvement was not throughout the team.

    The defence did well with Naylor probably deserving of his place on Monday (though whether he can play two in three days must be a doubt). Thankfully, Reading’s attack undoubtedly missed the recent dynamic inluence of Kebe. I had feared he would tear our defence to shreds.

    But on the whole we were not caught out at the back on the break nor were there any individual mistakes.

    The other improvement was the harrying and closing down of Reading in midfield. Reading could not muster any fluency and their attacking threat was therefore well thwarted. So credit to the midfield in this respect, including the fairly maligned Johnson (does he still think he is a Premiership player and deserving of a pay rise?)

    On the ball, however, there was no improvement and we struggled ourselves to find fluency with each player hesitant and seemingly not knowing where there was a free man to pass to.

    We continue to rely on individual flair/skill to create chances and there remains a complete absence of any passing and moving as a team.

    Unfortunately, relying as we do on Gradel & Snodgrass, they were once again badly off colour and failed to deliver any meaningful supply for Paynter.

    Our crossing from both open play and set pieces was particularly atrocious and Paynter deserves better than this. Becchio would not have done any any better than the equally hard working Paynter last night.

  • henryv

    A agree that service Paynter was poor.
    It has been poor to Becchio for most of the season
    but he has managed to score 18 goals from scraps.
    Paynter to not shake up the Reading defenders and never looked like scoring.
    We all want him to do well but time is running out this season.
    While we are in a good position from efforts earlier in the season, we are not playing well just now.
    Indeed, it could be argued we have been average since Christmas.
    I am praying for a return to form but I do not see any vitality in the team.
    Bannan should start as he has the spark/grit to lift us.
    Momentum is not with us.
    We have all seen our comfortable play-off place
    evaporating before our eyes.
    Our need for a leader on the pitch is apparent.
    Come on the boys!!!

  • Colin

    i think Paynter, as ever, was poor. He made one good move outsprinting and outmuscelling 2 defenders. That was it. Not good enough.
    Livermore had to go off, the ref could have sent him off he wanted to, but gave him a last chance.
    I thought johnson was good because he kept trying. Too many players looked like they didn’t want to take a chance – too much tippy tappy football. Oh how we could have done with a beckford in that game.

    For me, leeds were ineffectual and came out of this looking okay but i thought reading were poor. still think leeds will take 6th though, but swansea and cardiff are miles better than us or anyone else in the playoff mix.

    • The Reaper 08

      You thought Johnson was good because he kept trying (one of your favs) but you thought Paynter (not one of your favs) was rubbish although he also kept trying.

      Makes perfect sense that.

      • Colin

        Reaper – Paynter did f’ all apart from one move that i mentioned and it was a good one, but that was it. Johnson had more shots than Paynter. He was losing battles for headers. I do not think Paynter tried hard. He’s nowhere near championship level. Let’s see where he is when he leaves leeds.
        Usual story – howson, johnson, gradel, snodgrass, lichaj and kasper work hard. The rest make up the numbers.

        • Colin

          and naylor was okay too. There you go, i said it.

  • Paul South Wales

    I think Paynter will come good, he worked his socks off last night, but wasn’t supplied with any meaningful crosses all game. I think Norwich will go up and we’ll get stuffed by one of the teams above us (if we make it to the play-offs that is). I don’t think any of us really believe we’re good enough to get through, but we still live in hope, you never know on the day I suppose. Monday’s game will be a biggy. MOT

  • number1inyorkshire

    we took loads of plaudits but the fact is we should have scored . love him or loathe him and most on here including me at times do the latter ,how much better were we with killkenny in the playing side last night and i have to say with naylor .
    have we blown it though now .burnley , forest and us on same points alright we have to play burnley but ??????? .
    just for the record how many of us have guaranteed tickets for final should we get there .

  • Dje

    [Silver lining appears…]

    I have to say that many fans’ expectations of Leeds at the moment are low. If we get into the playoffs then this has to be an advantage. The pressure will be off as no one will be expecting us to actually go on to the playoff final, let alone win it. Whoever finishes third – probably Cardiff or Norwich – will be kicking themselves that they blew the automatic chance in the first place. To then possibly go out to a weak Leeds team is really going to stress them out. Has to be grounds for optimism from that.

    […silver lining disappears once more into the smog]

  • number1inyorkshire

    well its Easter Sunday ,
    that time of year to reflect on whats been and look forward to what has to come .
    whats been has been OK in fact at times bloody marvelous ,free scoring the amount of goals scored would have easily put us in second going into the Easter break ,
    that said we all know about the goals conceded its easy to blame the defence for them but we should defend from the strikers back ,and our midfield has disappeared enough times to make them complicit in the goals conceded column .
    At Christmas we were in a position to move forward with real ambition sadly for us it was only the thirty odd thousand paying fans that had any ,the chap who signed the cheques didn’t get on the boat and it went without him .

    if i was to say that 3 points would have put us in real command of our own destiny going into the last 3 games , then the loss to Preston is the 3 points missing .
    scoring 4 at home from being a goal down and 4-1 up to concede 5 without reply was well , answers on a postcard .
    looking forward we have easily the hardest 3 games of us and forest . the play offs , history will tell us are about momentum we have none ,that said we can still do it and hope we do .
    my own thought are i would now rather us finish 7th than go through the disappointment of the playoffs again getting to wembley and being thrashed by a Swansea or a Cardiff would be embarrassing .

    i do feel we missed the boat this season as do many others . I also think it will be 4/5 seasons before it comes back .we will loose some players ,that’s to be expected .
    we need to build with quality from outside the club molded round some of the talent we have in it .Lees ,Clayton etc and a shuffle in the backroom ,snoding and others need to be replaced if grayson is to stay ,if not poyet .

    All the loans can go for me with the exception of lichaj who i think has done really well ,biggest disappointment ,Watt .

    marching on together ,happy easter

  • saltburnwhite

    OUTS
    HIGGS FREE
    DAVID GONZALES RETURN
    NAYLOR FREE
    LICHAJ RETURN
    MCCARTNEY RETURN
    WATT RETURN
    BANNAN RETURN
    NUNEZ FREE
    LIVERMORE RETURN
    GRELLA SOLD
    MCORMACK SOLD

    POSSIBLES

    JOHNSON FREE
    KILKENNEY FREE
    KISNORBO FREE
    GRADEL SOLD
    SNODGRASS SOLD
    SCHMEICHEL SOLD

    POSSIBLE SQUAD TO START NEXT SEASON

    DEFENDERS
    BRUCE
    PARKER
    BROMBY
    LEES
    O’BRIEN

    MIDFIELDER
    SAM
    HOWSON
    CLAYTON
    HATFIELD

    STRIKER
    PAYNTER
    BECCHIO
    SOMMA

    IF EVERYONE LEAVES WHO WE THINK WILL , I THINK LEAVES US WITH A VERY THIN AND NOT VERY TALENTED SQUAD , IT HAS RELEGATION WRITTEN ALL OVER IT , WE WOULD NEED MAJOR INVESTMENT ESPECIALLY IF WE SELL SNODDY,GRADEL ECT .

    • number1inyorkshire

      you inadvertently missed Becchio of the sold list ,just because he signed a contract doesn’t mean he will not leave for the right money ,this is Bates remember

  • steve underwood

    Well its all doom and gloom we still have a great chance of the play offs but if we do miss out lets not think we will sell all our best players,johnson killa wont be missed,i would keep kisnorbo for one more season see how he goes,if snoddy and gradel do go lets hope grayson gets some of the money and hope he builds from the back

  • Tim Wilsom

    Just watched again as it came on as a repeat.. We weren’t that good