Wood strikes twice to lift Leeds United into top half
Leeds United hit three goals at home for the first time this season and climbed into the top half of the Sky Bet championship table with victory in an entertaining game against Reading.
All three goals came in the second half as the Whites came from behind at the break with two efforts from Chris Wood and one by Toumani Diagouraga.
They could even afford the concession of a controversial second Reading goal when referee Jeremy Simpson awarded a throw-in to Reading when the linesman had flagged the other way.
With United players complaining about the decision the visitors were allowed to take the throw quickly and home players were not set to defend a cross that led to substitute Deniss Rakels putting the ball in after Simon Cox’s initial effort had come back off the crossbar.
Leeds were without ill skipper Sol Bamba with Giuseppe Bellusci brought back in to partner Liam Cooper at the back, but otherwise were unchanged from the side that won at Birmingham last Tuesday.
They started as lively fashion as Stuart Dallas, fresh from his two goals in midweek, turned smartly to fire a volley over from 25 yards out within the first 30 seconds.
Mirco Antenucci cut in from the left to get a shot in inside the box and saw the ball go through the hands of keeper Ali Al Habsi only for the ball to be hacked clear by Jake Cooper.
Reading threatened for the first time when Simon Cox got in behind the home defence, but Marco Silvestri kept out his angled shot with his feet.
Michael Hector poked a shot wide from a corner soon after and with both defences looking hesitant Leeds had a good chance on 14 minutes as Wood teed up Antenucci on the edge of the box, but he sliced his shot wide.
Hector headed wide from another Reading corner with the hosts again failing to deal with a cross into their box, but surprisingly it took 39 minutes for the opening goal to arrive.
It was Reading who got it as Hector was left unmarked from a free-kick to volley home at the far post.
Leeds could have levelled before the break when Wood headed a decent chance over then got onto Antenucci’s ball into the box only to see his shot blocked.
United upped their intensity at the start of the second period and were quickly rewarded with an equaliser within three minutes as Gaetano Berardi’s cross evaded Wood, but was nodded home from close range by Diagouraga.
Three minutes later an inviting Charlie Taylor cross found Wood only for the forward to send his diving header wide.
Reading still carried a threat as Lucas Pazon hit two shots wide within a minute from the edge of the box, but it was Leeds who went ahead in the 70th minute.
Another Taylor cross found Wood free in the box and although the New Zealander did not get as clean a contact as he would like the ball went over the line before Al Habsi clawed it away. The linesman’s flag confirmed a goal and the Whites were ahead.
Back came Reading, though, as Stephen Quinn’s shot was half-blocked by Luke Murphy and went wide and Jake Cooper’s far post header was well saved by Silvestri’s legs.
Rakels’ controversial equaliser did make it 2-2 with nine minutes to go, but Leeds were gifted a winner when Jake Cooper fell over the ball to allow Wood to race clear and the striker calmly sent the ball past Al Habsi for his 11th goal of the season.
Wood had a chance for his hat-trick late on when Lewis Cook’s run and flicked pass gave him the chance to shoot, but he fired over and it finished 3-2 with United now up to 12th in the table.
Leeds boss Steve Evans thought his side were worth the points and was happy with the display in difficult circumstances.
He said: “I’m really pleased with the players today because we had some illness in the camp.
“The first half looked like an ill performance. But we spoke about putting that behind us and we gave it a real go as a team.
“I was hurt by the second goal as the assistant referee clearly shouted the ball was out and they go and put the ball in the net.
“We deserved the win. A lot of the players had nothing left and now it’s important the medical team do their bit and get the players fit for Tuesday.
“We have four games left and we have to make sure we have some integrity about our performance.”
Leeds United 3
(Diagouraga 48, Wood 70, 85)
(Hector 39, Rakels 81)
Saturday, April 16, 2016
Sky Bet Championship
Leeds: Silvestri, Berardi, Bellusci, Cooper, Taylor, Dallas (Coyle 90), Diagouraga (Phillips 66), Murphy, Cook, Antenucci (Erwin 80), Wood.
Reading: Al Habsi, McCleary, Hector, Cooper, Taylor, Evans (Rakels 71), Norwood, Piazon (John 77), Quinn, Vydra, Cox.
Referee: Jeremy Simpson.