TEN-MAN Leeds United put up a brave effort, but went down to two late goals against promotion-chasing Reading.
The Whites had to play all bar 12 minutes with a man down after teenage midfielder Zac Thompson was given a straight red card, but looked like deservedly earning a point only for two late strikes by substitute Adam Le Fondre to undo all their hard work.
Reading appeared to be running out of ideas and had not forced Leeds keeper Andy Lonergan into a serious save before out of the blue Hal Robson-Kanu got above Tom Lees to a Jimmy Kebe cross at the far post and headed the ball back across where Le Fondre had an easy task to nod home on the line.
Le Fondre made it 2-0 in the 90th minute with another close range finish after latching onto Jason Roberts’ low drive.
The goal had an element of controversy about it after the home striker appeared to elbow Paul Robinson in the build-up with the United player lying flat out on the floor as the ball hit the net.
Defeat was unfortunate on a Leeds defence that had stood firm in the second half. In fact it was United that had looked more like scoring as Ross McCormack hit the post with a great effort from the edge of the box and Robert Snodgrass could only hit a shot straight at keeper Adam Federici after being put clear by more excellent work by McCormack.
They worked hard in the first half as well without much quality in attack with the goalless first 45 minutes most notable for stoppages and some hefty challenges by Leeds players keen to show the manager that they did not think promotion was over for them despite his pre-match comments.
An early lunge by Michael Brown went unpunished, but referee Darren Drysdale produced a red card when Thompson went flying into a tackle with Jobi McAnuff in the 12th minute.
Another reckless challenge by Danny Pugh, however, went without even a foul being given and the frustration mounted for both teams with Reading appealing for everything and surrounding the referee several times and Leeds not always getting the decisions they thought they were due.
In all the stop-starts and fierce tackling there was little football with Reading managing only one effort on target in the first 45 minutes, an Ian Harte 20-yarder that was easily gathered by Andy Lonergan.
Harte did hit the post with a mis-hit cross that deceived Lonergan while Kaspers Gorkss headed a Harte corner over and McAnuff sent an angled shot not far wide, but it was a comfortable half for the 10-man Whites.
Leeds rarely looked like scoring either, but Ross McCormack did manage a shot from just inside the box that flashed just wide.
(Le Fondre 84, 90)
Leeds United 0
Friday, April 6, 2012
Reading: Federici, Cummings, Pearce, Gorkss, Harte, Kebe, Karacan (Robson-Kanu 40, Mullins 90), Leigertwood, McAnuff, Hunt (Le Fondre 69), Roberts.
Leeds: Lonergan, Lees, Bromby, Bruce, Robinson, Snodgrass (Webber 86), Brown, Thompson (sent-off 13), Pugh, McCormack (Rogers 86), Becchio (Forssell 87).
Referee: Darren Drysdale.