Leeds United draw a blank in Milanic’s first home game

Leeds United's Souleymane Doukara takes on Reading's Oliver Norwood and Simon Cox. Picture: Tony Johnson

Leeds United's Souleymane Doukara takes on Reading's Oliver Norwood and Simon Cox. Picture: Tony Johnson

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No goals from his first two games in charge is not the start Darko Milanic would have wished for, but at least he has his first point as Leeds United head coach after a draw with Reading.

In a game that will not live long in the memory -aside from being Milanic’s first at Elland Road - the Whites lost their way after a bright start and could be the happier of the two with the goalless draw after having to wait 85 minutes for their first shot on target.

After the 2-0 defeat in his first game at Brentford on Saturday Milanic resisted the temptation to make wholesale changes, although he did spring a surprise by leaving out left-back Stephen Warnock and replacing him with centre-back Liam Cooper.

Other than that there was only one change from the previous starting line-up with Casper Sloth preferred to Rudy Austin in midfield.

Leeds opened with some snappy passing with youngsters Lewis Cook and Alex Mowatt prominent, but the final ball was missing and several promising positions were wasted or well defended by Reading interceptions.

It was clear from early on that this was not going to be a night for goalmouth action, although Reading threatened when Nick Blackman’s strike from distance had to be tipped over by keeper Marco Silvestri and from the resulting corner Glenn Murray headed over.

Simon Cox then got a low shot in from the edge of the box, but it was easily dealt with by Silvestri.

United’s first shot came from Mowatt when he found space just outside the box only to fire a shot over. Moments later clever play down the right by Cook and Sam Byram freed the right-back, but his cross eluded the strikers.

Clear chances were at a premium with the best opening for Leeds being when Mowatt was gifted possession 30 yards out and he tried to catch keeper Adam Federici off his line only to see his shot clear the crossbar.

They had an opportunity just before half-time after Mowatt was tripped on the edge of the box, but Giuseppe Bellusci fired the resulting free-kick into the crowd.

The second half saw United pushed back and they were pleased to see Michael Hector shoot wide when he was well placed in the box. Hector then saw his effort blocked by Silvestri after a corner dropped to him.

Leeds defended well to prevent the visitors from taking advantage of their extra possession, but their lost their way in midfield, especially after Cook was surprisingly taken off, and they struggled to put any meaningful passes together.

Austin did liven up proceedings when he came on and tried an audacious lob from the half-way line, which was drifting just wide when the back-pedalling Federici caught the ball.

At the other end Silvestri saved at the near post from a Blackman shot.

Milanic threw on his final sub in Billy Sharp for the hard working but ineffective Mirco Antenucci and he was straight into the action to skip past two defenders on the edge of the box before hitting the Whites’ only shot on target all night, his effort being saved by Federici.

Austin fired another effort wide and Blackman blazed over for Reading, but neither side looked like snatching a late winner in a disappointing contest.

Match facts

Leeds United 0

Reading 0

Wednesday, October 1

Sky Bet Championship

Attendance: 20,705

Leeds: Silvestri, Byram, Bellusci, Pearce, Cooper, Bianchi, Cook (Murphy 59), Mowatt (Austin 67), Sloth, Doukara, Antenucci (Sharp 83).

Reading: Federici, Gunter, Pearce, Hector, Obita, Blackman, Norwood, Akpan (Guthrie 71), Taylor (Mackie 77), Cox (Robson-Kanu 75), Murray.

Referee: Tony Harrington.