Speed proves theory works

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The Independent Online

Leeds United 2 Reading 1

On a day when shock departures were in vogue, Leeds United refused to follow. Terry Venables may have gone in the afternoon but at night the Premiership prevailed at Elland Road, the home team reaching their first League Cup semi-final, Coca-Cola or otherwise, for five years.

Not that they had an entirely untroubled match. Reading took the lead after 16 minutes through Jimmy Quinn and should have made it 2-0 but once Phil Masinga equalised Leeds accelerated away, Gary Speed getting the winner.

In theory this should have been a simple task for Leeds against a team hardly frightening the First Division but the same assumptions had also been made against Watford, Sunderland and Mansfield in the same competition over the last three seasons and they came a cropper on each occasion.

The theory looked even less sound when the visitors took the lead. Trevor Morley crossed from the right, Mick Gooding headed on and Quinn, Reading's joint player-manager, hooked the ball past Mark Beeney with a vicious volley.

Reading assumed a superiority in terms of play as well as goals and after 30 minutes it should have been 2-0 when Gary McAllister slipped and Morley had a clear run at goal. His shot hit Beeney's legs, however.

The true cost of that miss became apparent as Leeds scored twice before the interval. First Masinga lost his marker completely to meet McAllister's free kick after 34 minutes then Speed rose 12 yards out to head in powerfully from Gary Kelly's cross a minute before half-time.

These goals had a debilitating affect on Reading but they almost equalised when Tom Jones' shot hit the post after 61 minutes and even in the last seconds Morley had a shot blocked from a range of two yards. "It was hairy at times. Howard Wilkinson, the Leeds manager, said, "But it will look a good result on Monday."

Leeds (4-3-1-2): Beeney; Kelly, Wetherall, Palmer, Dorigo; McAllister, Ford, Speed, Brolin; Wallace (Couzens, 80), Masinga (Harte, 74). Substitute not used: Lukic (gk).

Reading (5-3-2): Nixon; Brown, Holsgrove, Thorpe (Gilkes, 59), Williams, Jones; Nogan, Parkinson (Lambert, 74), Gooding; Morley, Quinn. Substitute not used: Swales.

Referee: A Wilkie (Chester-le-Street).