Leeds United: Hernandez encouraged by second-half change of tack

United's Pablo Hernandez is muscled out by Royals' Liam Kelly and Danny Williams. PIC: Tony Johnson
United's Pablo Hernandez is muscled out by Royals' Liam Kelly and Danny Williams. PIC: Tony Johnson
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Pablo Hernandez drew positives from Leeds United’s second-half display at Reading but admitted a lack of creativity was an issue away from home after a 1-0 defeat on Saturday.

Hernandez praised Leeds for “changing the mentality” and reversing the balance of a game which Reading dominated before half-time, despite the club failing to avert a first loss in eight matches.

United's Alfonso Pedraza.

United's Alfonso Pedraza.

United were beaten by a 21st-minute goal from Yann Kermorgant and rode several near-misses in the first half as Reading prized three points from a clash between two clubs who look destined for the Championship play-offs.

Hernandez was among the players who struggled before half-time but a shift in impetus after the break saw Leeds control much of the second half without seriously threatening to beat Reading goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi. The result has ended talk of Leeds competing for a top-two finish but Garry Monk’s side are still on course for a play-off place, with a six-point advantage over seventh-placed Sheffield Wednesday.

United’s players remained in the south of England on Saturday night and will head to Brentford tomorrow with seven games of the campaign remaining.

Hernandez said: “It’s not a good result. In the first half we made many mistakes and they scored one goal from one of those but in the second half the game changed and I think we played better.

United's Ronaldo Vieira.

United's Ronaldo Vieira.

“In the second half we deserved the draw but this is football. We have to take it. What’s more important is we saw in the second half that this is the way. If we play like the second half in the next game then I’m sure we will win three points.”

Hernandez and Alfonso Pedraza both failed to convert close-range opportunities in the first half and Ronaldo Vieira missed the best of Leeds’ opportunities in the second, stabbing a weak effort straight at Al-Habsi.

Monk admitted that his side were “in good positions but couldn’t find the finish” and Hernandez said: “I think in general in the games away, the team have more problems creating chances but we are working on changing this. We work all the week to change this.

“What’s more important now is the attitude, the mentality and the seven games in front of us. What’s important is that all the players are together, that we keep strong and give our all on the pitch. I’m sure that in the future games if we play like we did in the second half we will win games. Yes, all the people are frustrated because we lost but what’s more important is that at half-time the team changed their mentality and deserved more in the second half.”

Leeds’ game against Brentford is a second lengthy away trip in the space of four days and Monk moved to negate the effect of travelling by keeping his squad in London over the weekend.

“We’re staying down, training here and getting ready for the game on Tuesday,” he said. “That’s the best way to refresh them.

“In eight out of 11 (games after a defeat) we’ve bounced straight back with a positive result.

“We’ve got a good mentality like that. We’re disappointed to lose the game but there were positives as well.”