Saturday, October 29, 2005

DIRTY NORTHERN Reading 1-1 Leeds United

Your typical Yorkshireman thinks that the white rose county is the centre of the universe, home of everything good in the world. Floyd on Football tends to disagree and offers you the godawful Last of the Summer Wine, Emmerdale Farm, William Hague, Michael Parkinson and, of course, Neil Warnock to the contrary. Add to that Leeds United's rough house tactics, totally unpunished today by the wholly incompetent wally of a referee Phil Joslin.

Unbelievably, this game ended one apiece in both the goalscoring and booking count. Leeds were not the greatest side to visit the Mad Stad this season, but played a hard, physical game which to be fair is suited to the limited if commited Paul Butler and Sean Derry. Leeds will take points off plenty of the top sides this season in the opinion of Floyd of Football and should be certs for a top six place with their goalscoring capability. A draw was perhaps a fair result, for this was not the most flowing Reading performance of the season as in all honesty we played in fits and bursts.

Another 20,000+ gate at the MadStad, albeit for the most part a fairly quiet crowd who watched a game which was rather scrappy and uninspiring at times. In the early years of the 21st century Leeds were reaching the latter stages of both the UEFA Cup and the Champions League whilst Reading were struggling to beat the likes of Oxford United and Colchester in front of sub-7,000 crowds in Division 2. We've come a long way, and Leeds fallen on hard times, since then and nowadays Reading are favourites to win a home fixture against Leeds United who danced with delight when gifted their equaliser this afternoon.

As suggested earlier, there was little to cheer during the first half and the atmosphere which had built up nicely pre-match soon dissipated. Reading didn't quite manage to play to their counter attacking strengths, foiled by poor final ball and Leeds constant niggling negativity. Time was wasted over goalkicks and throw-ins, a strange attitude for them to take considering a draw would leave the visitors 9 points well adrift of us. There were half chances; Glen Little volleyed high and unhandsomely wide from a deep Nicky Shorey centre, the willing but for once unable Doyle failing to connect with Murty's smashing cross, Gunnarsson and central-midfield partner Harper firing tamely wide. At the other end Hulse, such a thorn in our side at Ellan Road last season, nodded over and Robbie Blake, who looked quite sharp when he wasn't busying himself moaning, shot well over after good work. Reading ended an ordinary half on the ascendancy with Convey's long range freekick not unduly testing Sullivan.

Reading had guilt-edged chances in the second half and were denied by a mixture of inaccurate finishing and inspired goalkeeping. Doyle sent an effort wide when well placed following good work by Kitson and Convey, with Convey and Doyle going on to test the experienced Leeds 'keeper with angled efforts. The scoring was finally opened after 63 minutes by the magnificent GUNNARSSON who covered every blade of grass it seemed. Receiving the ball as a result of a corner, he scored with a well placed effort remniscent to the opening goal against Sheffield United in the league game earlier this month. We had chances to make the game safe when Kitson's header was too high and the busy little non-Yorkshire whippet Convey remarkably outjumped his man, but Leeds were gifted an equaliser with 15 minutes left after it seemed a series of sloppy defensive errors by Reading might go unpunised. Ingimarsson, facing his own goal and under pressure, spread a pass out to the left flank where he found only a grateful David HEALY. The Northern Irishman lashed home a fortunate leveller in a not disimilar style to the way he polished off England at Windsor Park recently. A sickener for the otherwise solid Ingimarsson.

Leeds in truth dominated after that, Douglas (who had missed an earlier sitter quite dreadfully) being denied by the firm wrists of Marcus Hahnemann and the rebound being smothered after a dangerous looking melee. Reading did threaten through Sidwell's header kept off the line and another couple of smart saves from Sullivan, but the truth of the matter is that we have not converted enough of the multitude of chances we have created in recent games. 1-0 is never enough because there is always the danger that a rare mistake from a defender of the claibre of Ingimarsson may deny you what you deserve. That said, with none of the top 5 mamaging to win this was not a catastrophic draw by any means - a draw which creates a piece of club history, 18 games unbeaten. 'Appen both clubs were reasonably happy with 1-1.

Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Shorey, Ingimarsson, Sonko, Little, Gunnarsson (Sidwell, 83), Harper, Convey (Hunt, 86), Doyle, Kitson. Subs not used: Stack, Oster, Obinna.

Floyd's Favourite: Gunnarsson. Everywhere.


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