Veteran striker is not just all talk!

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Matt Wright

YANN Ker­mor­gant got un­der Leeds’ skin in the build-up to this match be­fore hurt­ing them where it mat­ters, as his goal gave Read­ing a big push to­wards the play-offs.

Ker­mor­gant had claimed the Whites were a one-man team, too re­liant on the goals of Chris Wood, and the Roy­als pro­duced a good col­lec­tive per­for­mance that moved them above their op­po­nents into fourth.

Now seven points clear of sev­enth place with seven games left, it’s look­ing in­creas­ingly likely Jaap Stam’s first sea­son in charge is go­ing to be ex­tended into the play-offs.

Given these two teams’ po­si­tions in the ta­ble, the game might end up be­ing a dress re­hearsal for next month and it could have plenty of spice af­ter the back-bit­ing that’s gone on.

There was one ugly in­ci­dent in the sec­ond half of this in­stal­ment, as Leeds de­fender Liam Cooper ap­peared to stamp on the head of Read­ing sub Reece Ox­ford.

Stam said: “I didn’t see it my­self – Reece isn’t the type of per­son who goes down and stays down to buy some time.

“From what I’ve heard from other peo­ple who’ve seen it, he made a move to touch him but I don’t know if he did that on pur­pose – of course he’s go­ing to say he didn’t.

“It was a very im­por­tant game for both of us, to be fair, to win and cre­ate a gap. I’m very happy with the win, but also in the per­for­mance it­self. I think we played very well in the first half and cre­ated some very good chances.”

Ali Al-Habsi was able to breathe a sigh of re­lief when Kyle Bart­ley headed into the side net­ting af­ter the Read­ing keeper had missed Pablo Her­nan­dez’s free-kick.

The Roy­als then took ad­van­tage of some day­dream­ing in the Leeds de­fence in the 21st minute as they caught them out with a quick throw-in.

Char­lie Tay­lor pre­vented the ball from reach­ing Chris Gunter, but his header fell for veteran Ker­mor­gant – who an­nounced in the week that he would re­tire at the end of next sea­son – on the edge of the box and Rob Green couldn’t stop his fizzing half-vol­ley.

Read­ing passed up two great chances to dou­ble their lead, as Roy Beerens blazed over be­fore Garath McCleary was de­nied by Green when one-on-one.

Ker­mor­gant then struck the out­side of the post as the hosts fin­ished the first half very much on top and Beerens should have done far bet­ter on 55 min­utes af­ter Ker­mor­gant had picked him out.

Al-Habsi then gave his own sup­port­ers the jit­ters again when he let Souley­mane Doukara’s shot go through him, but the ball trick­led wide for a cor­ner.

The vis­i­tors con­tin­ued to press, as the Roy­als dropped off phys­i­cally, but Wood and his team­mates were left frus­trated, leav­ing Leeds man­ager Garry Monk say­ing: “We wanted to make it eight games un­beaten, but we haven’t.

“In the first half we made too many mis­takes that re­ally led to their chances and you can’t af­ford to do that. Maybe if you make one or two max­i­mum, you can get away with it, but we prob­a­bly made four or five in that first half that led to chances for them and they took one of them.

“We played a slightly dif­fer­ent game in the sec­ond half to put them un­der pres­sure and keep them in a game where they feel un­com­fort­able and it was a fan­tas­tic ef­fort from us.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

GOLDEN OLDIE: Yann Ker­mor­gant cel­e­brates scor­ing the only goal

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