Howson backs Leeds to bring Reading's winning run to an end

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The Independent Football

Jonny Howson, the Leeds captain, believes his side can shake off their indifferent form and end Reading's long winning run when they meet in a vital Championship match at Elland Road tonight.

Leeds are clinging to the final play-off position after managing just one win in their past six matches. By contrast Reading head north on the back of an eight-game winning run that has propelled them up to fourth and in contention for an automatic promotion place that had looked well beyond them only a couple of months ago.

"They are on a terrific run of form," Howson said. "They are a very good side. Their confidence will be sky high, but their run has to come to an end at some stage."

Leeds had to rely on a late Troy Deeney own goal to claim a 2-2 draw at home to Watford last weekend and while Howson admits they need to improve, he is confident they can remain in the top six.

"We believe we can do it. The management and staff do and the players do," he added. "OK we only got a point on Saturday, but things are highlighted more because it's a crucial stage now. These things happen, but it's about how you react."

Victory for Reading could see them move into the top two and manager Brian McDermott is looking forward to playing in front of one of the Championship's most passionate crowds. "It's a fantastic place to play, great atmosphere, great fans, they have a really good team, good manager, we know their history over many years," he said. "We'll look forward to it, we'll bring a lot of fans and it's live on the TV as well."

Nottingham Forest could push Leeds out of the top six by the time the match kicks-off at Elland Road with Billy Davies' side hosting Leicester in an earlier 5.45pm kick-off. Forest trail Leeds by two points but have been unable to exert pressure on their rivals after failing to win in their past eight games.

With the chasing pack closing in behind them – Leicester are only three points behind in 11th place – Davies will be relieved to have defender Chris Cohen back from his three-game ban, although Paul Konchesky is banned after his sending off in the defeat to Norwich.

The other two Good Friday fixtures could have major implications at the other end of the table with Doncaster hosting Crystal Palace, while Scunthorpe travel to Coventry.

Sean O'Driscoll's Doncaster are five points clear of the drop zone but are on a downward spiral having failed to win in eight games. Rovers' hopes may be boosted though by Palace's terrible away record – the worst in the division with just one win in 21 games on their travels. A 2-1 defeat to Scunthorpe at Selhurst Park last weekend has left Dougie Freedman's side just three points above Scunthorpe.

Scunthorpe travel to Coventry looking to continue their mini-revival under new manager Alan Knill, who has seen his new side win twice in his four games in charge.