YANN SHOWS HE IS STILL THE MAN
Veteran striker is not just all talk!
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.”
GOLDEN OLDIE: Yann Kermorgant celebrates scoring the only goal