A mixture of emotions for Reading boss Mark Bowen at the end of a full-blooded 90 minutes at Elland Road.
Only one goal to separate the two teams – which went the way of Leeds midfielder Pablo Hernandez, who produced a fine finish after a fairly scrappy bit of play.
Reading created opportunities throughout against the promotion-hopefuls, and might have had a penalty in the final moments of the match as skipper Liam Moore was manhandled by counterpart Liam Cooper in the box. On the day, it wasn’t to be for the Royals.
“First and foremost, I have to pat the players on the back,” said the Royals manager. “We did everything right to get something out of the game, but it didn’t go for us because of one instance. The shift they put in, the desire they showed… I’m proud of them for that.
“Of course, I’m frustrated in the end. We had a game-plan, we came here and worked well at it. In the first half especially we did very well.
“But small instances change games. It starts off with a free-kick being given for a hand-ball against George Pușcaș – the referee gives a free-kick, the ball gets played wide and their player gets a bad first touch but it bobbles behind Omar, who gets a toe to it. Then it bobbles about in the box – two or three instances later, it falls to Pablo Hernandez – it’s a good finish in the end, but that’s the moment that wins or loses the game for you.
“We changed it late on to go 4-4-2 to try to press forward a bit more. Liam Moore had a chance at the end and it was possibly his own honesty which has stopped us getting a penalty. He was dragged and dragged, but he stayed on his feet even though he could have possibly had a penalty.
“Little things like that determine games, and it went against us today. But I’m proud of the shift of the work that they put in.
“The galling thing is coming here knowing we could have got something. We had a game-plan which we had worked on, and all the lads bought into. We are happy with the way we played, but in one instance they made it count. There are fine margins in this league which can win and lose you games.
“So we’re gutted because we’ve come all this way and played against a top side and deserved to come away with something – and we haven’t.”