MOT View: Graft from 23y/o won Leeds the game – 3 things we learned from win v Reading
Wow. Somehow, Leeds United found a way to win a game that was looking for the world like it was going to end 0-0.
They left it late again and they’re starting to make a habit of this, but champions score late goals – they never give up.
For 87 minutes on Tuesday night, Leeds looked anything but champions. Take no credit away from Reading, though, they were organised and they stuck to their gameplan. It worked until it didn’t.
Here are the MOT talking points from a very valuable victory that saw Leeds move back to the top of the league.
Finally, some adventure from the corner spot
Even the Sky Sports commentators knew the stat. Over 120 corners now and Leeds have scored from one of them. Despite that, from almost every corner in the first half, Phillips raised his arm from the corner sport and then either failed to beat the first man or floated an aimless ball in for the defence to clear. Leeds had six corners in the first half and Reading came closest to scoring from one of them when Yakou Meite broke and couldn’t find the right cross for George Puscsas. Reading had four corners and very nearly scored from a Meite header. Leeds finally went short with a corner in the second half and while Pablo Hernandez was so surprised he ran the ball straight out of play, it was good to see something different. And then, in a move straight from the training ground, Phillips cut the ball back to Hernandez on the edge of the box. Again, it didn’t come off but it shows they’re trying something different. And that’s a step in the right direction.
Sheer graft and desire from Harrison won Leeds the game
Tonight was the night when Leeds couldn’t turn possession into any clearcut chances. 66% possession in the first half, six attempts on goal but none on target. Teams are happy to let Leeds have possession. It’s Leeds’ problem to crack. It was more of the same in the second half and while Stuart Dallas was desperately unlucky not to score from 25 yards, you can’t rely on shots from distance. Reading had the best chances in the game up until the one brilliant move from Leeds at the death. Jack Harrison started it with a flick just outside his own penalty box and then ran the whole length of the pitch to score the header. That was pure desire and graft from the 23-year-old and it was brilliant to see. Helder Costa provided the cross and he was a menace when he came on tonight. His touch still isn’t quite there and he got lucky with the cross, that got a crucial deflection from a Reading player, but Costa is looking good. And keeping the ball in the corner at the end showed smarts too. With Tyler Roberts going off injured, he should get more starts.
More bad luck for Roberts
Tyler Roberts has been unlucky at Leeds United with injuries and the way he went down tonight makes you think he’s in for another stint on the sidelines. He seemed to want to come back on but then left seemingly clutching his hamstring. We should find out more from Marcelo Bielsa’s post-match press conference, but it didn’t look good.
In other Leeds United news, Paul Robinson hails impact of Liam Cooper in win v Luton