Saturday, 27 November 2010


United manager Simon Grayson named an unchanged team for the trip to Reading while the hosts were able to call on former Leeds defender Ian Harte who had been an injury doubt.
Luciano Becchio was also making his 100th league appearance, spearheading an attacking formation that had served Leeds well in recent weeks.

The opening exchanges, which were tentative, were played out to the backdrop of over 4,000 travelling Leeds fans belting out 'Champions of Europe' in another amazing show of support.
Leeds did have some early defending to do as Reading looked to make the early running, but there was nothing in the way of chances and little in the way of real entertainment.
Leeds were looking to deliver a typical away performance, hitting the hosts on the break and soaking up any pressure from Reading. Andy O'Brien and Alex Bruce both made a couple of early defensive headers while, at the other, two raids broke down when the ball was pumped into the box.
Just as the game was threatening to be as dull as they come, United fashioned out a half-chance. Robert Snodgrass broke down the right, but Becchio was unable to make a decent connection on his cross and his header was wide.
O'Brien made another intervention when Simon Church's touch let him down in front of goal, and Reading hacked clear a free-kick from deep after seemingly failing to pick up Bradley Johnson.
The first time either keeper was called into serious action was on 31 minutes when Adam Federici, a one-time trialist with Leeds during Kevin Blackwell's tenure as manager, had to save a free-kick from Snodgrass.
As the game edged towards half-time another United break came to an end in the final third while Max Gradel made an amazing back-heeled goal-line clearance to deny Shane Long with a header from a corner.
Kasper Schmeichel also tipped an inswinging corner over the top while Zurab Khizanishvili headed the resultant set-piece wide as Reading looked to finish the first half on top.
Moments before half-time there was a flare-up betyween Andy Griffin and Max Gradel which ended with players from both sides becoming embroiled in a melee. The two players both received yellow cards, but the fuse was clearly lit as verbal altercations continued apace.
In first half stoppage time, Paul Connolly picked up his fifth booking of the season, and he will now sit out next weekend's game against Crystal Palace.
The game was finely balanced at the start of the second period and Bruce made an early block from Church as Reading started on the offensive. Schmeichel also made a great block to keep out a low free-kick from Harte which appeared goalbound.
United responded by winning a corner after Snodgrass got on the end of a long ball forward and looked to get in behind the Reading defence, and the game was showing signs of hotting up.
Gradel tested Federici with a low drive after cutting in from the left as United started to find space to knock the ball around. An opening almost came shortly after the hour when Snodgrass smashed the ball low into the box, but Reading scrambled clear.
At the other end, Bruce made another important intervention, Schmeichel palmed away a cross, and Paul Connolly made a good block. O'Brien was also looking assured again at the back as United looked solid under pressure.
United had now reverted to playing a 4-4-2 system with Gradel joining Becchio in the front line. Snodgrass looked to play the Argentine striker through on goal, but Becchio lost his footing at the vital moment and the chance passed.
Grayson made a double change with 14 minutes remaining, Ross McCormack and Billy Paynter replacing Becchio and Gradel.
The pair had looked sharp in reserve team football and their movement was good when they joined proceedings as Leeds looked to force a winning goal.
But it was Reading who came close four minutes from trime when Michail Antonio rattled a shot against the post, and George McCartney made a terrific effort to deny the hosts in the six-yard box.
And Schmecihel saved from Hunt as the game headed towards stoppage time while O'Brien made an important clearance when the ball came into the box.
Suddenly it was Reading who were pressing for the decisive goal as four minutes of time were added on.
But, on the break, McCormack did well to find an advancing Howson in space and Federici had to turn his shot around the post in a real last gasp effort.
And that was how it stayed with honours ending even as United made it six games without defeat.

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