Reading 2-2 Leeds United: Player Ratings
Saturday, 10th Mar 2018 22:00 by @LucasMonk_
Pablo Hernandez, Bailey Peacock-Farrell and Ezgjan Alioski all impressed at the Madejski Stadium...
Bailey Peacock-Farrell: 7
The 21-year-old, in only his third professional appearance for the club, again belied his relative inexperience with another commanding and authoritative performance between the posts. He made two excellent saves in the first half - from Reading’s Jon Dadi Bodvarsson and Modou Barrow respectively - and if Paul Heckingbottom were to divest him of his starting berth for the visit of Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday it would be an incredibly callous move.
Gaetano Berardi: 5
The Swiss right-back could not match Barrow, who had been deployed on the left flank by Royals boss Jaap Stam, for sheer speed and had the Gambian been less profligate in possession United may have endured an even tougher first half than they did. Having been a consistent and dependable performer in a Leeds shirt for three steady seasons, Berardi has somewhat floundered throughout the present campaign after signing a new three-year contract with the club in August and is fortunate that, in Luke Ayling’s absence, he cannot be reasonably dislodged from the starting eleven despite his struggles of late.
Pontus Jansson: 7
The Sweden international failed to track the intelligent run of Jon Dadi Bodvarsson just moments prior to the opening goal but atoned for this error by scoring United’s equaliser with the half-time interlude looming. His frustration at the eventual draw was tangible when he was interviewed by BBC Radio Leeds after the match and speculation that he will depart Elland Road in the summer refuses to abate.
Matthew Pennington: 6
Though the Everton loanee’s slipshod distribution served to disappoint, he was imperious in the air, winning several aerial contests, and made a block of critical importance to deny Reading’s George Evans in the first period.
Laurens De Bock: 5
Despite being a seasoned campaigner in the Belgian Pro League, the Europa League and the Champions League with both Lokeren and Club Brugge, the 25-year-old has endured a torrid spell since arriving at Elland Road for a reported £1,500,000 in January. At the Madejski Stadium, De Bock’s torment continued, with the Belgian carelessly relinquishing possession and presenting former United loanee Barrow with a gilt-edged chance in the first half. Thankfully for Leeds, Peacock-Farrell was able to divert Barrow’s effort behind for a corner.
Eunan O'Kane: 5
Surprise and exasperation, in equal measure, greeted the inclusion of the Republic of Ireland international, who started the match after a perfunctory display away to Middlesbrough that meant he played no part in last Wednesday’s chastening defeat to league leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers. It was soon plain to see why so many supporters were infuriated by Heckingbottom’s selection of O’Kane, as the midfielder frequently ceded possession and scored Reading’s equaliser in the second half - just moments after Pablo Hernandez handed Leeds a 2-1 lead - by inadvertently turning Leandro Bacuna’s cross past Peacock-Farrell and into the net. It was most certainly a day to forget for the 27-year-old.
Adam Forshaw: 7
Unlike that of De Bock, Leeds’ acquisition of Forshaw from divisional rivals Middlesbrough is already, and rightly, regarded by many as having been a shrewd one. Once again, the cultured midfielder cut an eminently self-assured figure in the middle of the park, completing 81% of his passes whilst also assisting Jansson for United’s equaliser. The metronomic passer possesses both the tactical awareness and technical ability to dictate the tempo of matches and is already beginning to establish himself as a key member of the squad at Elland Road.
Ezgjan Alioski: 8
The Macedonian’s form for United since his arrival from FC Lugano of the Swiss Super League can be most aptly described as changeful. He has seldom been mediocre and has more often been either stellar or dire, which is perhaps to be expected of a player with no prior experience of English football. In this match, he was veritably more stellar than dire. He defended diligently, making three tackles, and was also alacritous in attack, seeing two efforts saved attentively by Anssi Jaakkola, the home goalkeeper, whilst another struck the post. The 26-year-old clearly possesses the sufficient ability to feature in a team pursuing promotion with regularity - but he must produce displays such as this more frequently than has been the case if he is to convince Heckingbottom of this.
Samuel Saiz: 6
The 27-year-old did record an assist for Hernandez’s goal in the second half, but was unusually and infuriatingly indecisive when in the final third in a fairly middling performance that will hardly be adhesive to the memory.
Pablo Hernandez: 8
My man of the match. In addition to making five key passes, the Spaniard netted a sumptuous goal - a masterly curling effort and his fifth in the Championship this season - in a vintage display that prompted renewed calls from supporters for him to be awarded a new contract at Elland Road. Speculation abounds that the 32-year-old will depart come the season’s conclusion, with his present deal due to expire in June, and if he continues to perform so wonderfully he will certainly not be short of potential destinations.
Caleb Ekuban: 5
The Italian-born Ghanaian striker has found regular football difficult to come by since joining Leeds from Serie A club Chievo Verona last summer, and this fact owes much to his injury woes. He was afforded a rare start at the Madejski, displacing Pierre-Michel Lasogga, but he failed to make a perceptible impact as United’s lone forward in their 4-2-3-1 formation. He notably struggled to hold the ball up and his egregious attempts to manipulate the ball with his feet eventually saw him substituted for Lasogga in the second period.
Pierre-Michel Lasogga and Stuart Dallas: N/A
Lasogga, who is on loan at Elland Road from Hamburger SV and who has scored 10 goals for Leeds this season, was relegated to the bench after a pedestrian display against Wolves last Wednesday night. In this match, he replaced Ekuban after 77 minutes but had little time in which to make an impact, as did Stuart Dallas, who replaced Hernandez with a mere five minutes remaining.
Photo: Action Images
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