News and Views

Match Preview: Fulham FC v Reading FC

03 December 2016
By Alex Bower

"Fulham have got a great team. I think it will be one of the most difficult games to play so far this season. The way they want to play is quite similar to what we like to do. They like to play out from the back, they've got quality attacking players who are comfortable on the ball as well. If you give them time they can make it very difficult for you so it is going to be a very interesting game on Saturday."
- Reading FC Manager Jaap Stam

"They are a team that play very good football and look to control the game, and we are going to try and put them in a situation where they don't get an opportunity to dictate the play. They have been playing very well. They've won their last five games but we are confident in ourselves, and nobody has outplayed us in recent games. We are confident we can show a good performance and win."
- Fulham FC Manager Slavisa Jokanovic

Reading will be looking to settle a score when they face Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday. Last season's fixture between the two sides will live long in the memory, unfortunately for Reading fans. The Royals were 2-0 up and looking comfortable. Three Fulham goals in six minutes, however, turned the tide and Fulham went on to win 4-2.

While the game against Fulham marked the start of a decline for the Royals last season, this season Reading will be hoping to continue a more positive run. The side have won five games in a row and will now be looking to make it six. Last time out Reading beat Bristol City 2-1 at home courtesy of goals from Garath McCleary and Roy Beerens. The Royals now find themselves third in the Championship.

Fulham are not doing too badly either, having pushed themselves up to tenth in the league. Their last fixture against Brighton, however, did not go to plan as they lost 2-1 away from home. Kevin McDonald initially gave Fulham the lead but two second-half goals from Sam Baldock and Glenn Murray were enough to give Brighton the victory.

If Reading are to extend their winning streak, then they will have to do so without centre-back Liam Moore. The defender has been an important member of their squad but is suspended for Saturday's game. John Swift and Stephen Quinn also remain sidelined with injuries.

The only absentee for Fulham is Denis Odoi after he picked up his fifth yellow card of the season. Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic will, however, be able to rely on the services of Captain Scott Parker once more as he returns from his suspension. Lucas Piazon could also make an appearance, following his season on loan at the Madejski last year.

While both sets of fans will be optimistic about Saturday's fixture, it is a difficult one to predict. Fulham have won their last two home games against Reading but have never won three in a row. This season Fulham have also only won one of their last eight games at Craven Cottage, despite Tom Cairney creating more chances this season than any other Championship player. Reading meanwhile are on a winning streak and will be looking for it to continue.

With both teams playing in a similar fashion it is difficult to predict how the sides will fare. It has the potential to be a tough game for the Royals but they will be confident about extending their run and maintaining their place near the pinnacle of the table.

Reading 2-1 Bristol City: Things We Learned

28 November 2016
By Alex Bower

It was a fifth win in a row for Reading FC as they remained third in the Championship table with a 2-1 win against Bristol City. Ultimately the game was won by an impressive first half for the Royals with goals coming from Garath McCleary and Roy Beerens. It was a slightly uncomfortable second half for home supporters when Gary O'Neil scored for the away side but the Royals held on for the win with some resolute defending.

Here are some of the things to come out of the game:

Garath Should Not Take Penalties

As the famous saying goes, third strike and you're out. Going into Saturday's game Garath McCleary had missed his last two penalties. Against Wigan he opted to hand the ball to Yann Kermorgant for the penalty despite being on a hat-trick; The striker converted. When Reading were awarded a penalty against Bristol and McCleary stepped up, therefore, there were mixed feelings of fear and hope.

Unfortunately for the midfielder, his effort was stopped by Frank Fielding. Fortunately it was directed straight back into his path for him to convert. On two occasions now McCleary has been let off with Kermorgant and himself being able to reach the rebound after his penalty has been saved. Perhaps it is time to give someone else a go.

Hoof And Hope Made Life Difficult

Obviously Reading like to play a possession based style of football these days which (ideally) involves the ball being on the ground for long periods of time. Under increasing amounts of pressure by the Bristol, the Reading players tended to resort to hoofing the ball forwards.

While some would say it was better to clear the ball than risk losing it in their own area, more often than not it just allowed Bristol to attack them again. The statures of Dominic Samuel, Roy Beerens, Garath McCleary, Yakou Meite and Callum Harriott meant they were never going to be able to compete with the statuesque Bristol defence in the air. As a result when playing the more physical sides of the Championship, Reading will need to find a way to maintain control especially when Yann Kermorgant is not playing.

Determined Performance Shows Belief

There were several moments when Bristol were knocking on the door but the Reading players continuously put their bodies on the line to keep the ball out the net. Ali Al-Habsi, Paul McShane, Liam Moore, Tyler Blackett, Jordan Obita and Chris Gunter at the back were particularly impressive but it is clear that there is a level of determination in the squad this year that has been missing previously.

With every positive result the talk of promotion grows ever louder. More importantly, the players themselves are playing as if they believe that it is possible.

Royals Starting To Play With Confidence

No move sums up the confidence the Reading players have in their tactics and ability than Roy Beerens' goal. It was a beautiful move which began with Garath McCleary on the right. The winger chipped the ball into Chris Gunter as he ran into the penalty area. Playing the ball first time, the wing-back crossed to Beerens on the edge of the area who volleyed the ball into the net.

The Royals will still be adjusting to the style of play Jaap Stam is implementing, especially with the likes of Dominic Samuel making their first strides in the first team. If this goal shows anything in particular, however, it is that quality and confidence is apparent in this current team.

Stam For Manager Of The Month?

Reading have won all of their November fixtures, scoring eight goals in the process. It is form that is drawing an increasing amount of attention to Jaap Stam and rightfully so. Royals fans for one will be happy with what Stam has done for the club so far and, based on current form, should definitely be in contention for the Championship manager of the month award. With much talk already about a potential move for the manager, however, perhaps they won't be too keen on him winning.

Reading Make It Five Wins From Five

27 November 2016
By Hob Nob Anyone?

A goal of breath-taking quality from Roy Beerens after nineteen minutes proved to be the difference between the teams in an evenly contested match. The quality of the goal was tribute to the overall improvement in the quality of Reading's football over the past three months. McCleary's delightfully weighted ball dropped behind the City defence to find a superbly timed run from Gunter who volleyed an equally good ball to the back post for Beerens to volley past Fielding inside the far post.

If there is a better goal in the Championship this season I hope I am there to see it. McCleary had at that point already given the Royals the lead tucking away the rebound from his spot kick in the thirteenth minute awarded following Magnusson's trip on Samuel. The game still hung the balance throughout the second half and there were some anxious moments for home fans near the end when O'Neil pulled a goal back for the visitors in the eighty-seventh minute. For City it was too little too late as Reading extended their impressive winning streak to five games.
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Match Preview: Reading FC v Bristol City

26 November 2016
By Alex Bower

"We're happy with how we're playing at the moment, but we know we can still improve. Third place is nice, but it's good to put in a performance and to keep winning games."
- Reading FC Manager Jaap Stam

"Bristol aren't in great form but we know they will pose a threat so we know we've got to be switched on. We'll try to attack this one the way we have with the other games over the last few weeks, we want to come out confident and try to impose ourselves on the game really quickly."
- Reading FC Defender Tyler Blackett

"Jaap Stam has come in and has tried to educate supporters and players with regards to how he believes football should be played. They're very expansive and make a lot of passes. Sometimes that can be quite frustrating for English fans to watch, especially when a lot of those passes take place in your own half. However, it's clearly working for Reading so no one can argue when you're being successful."
- Bristol City Manager Lee Johnson

"I've had some bad times at the Madejski Stadium - I can't remember ever winning there. Reading's form is a worry for us, but that's something we need to overcome. In this league, it's always going to be a difficult game."
- Bristol City Defender Mark Little

Reading will be looking to hold onto third place in the Championship on Saturday as they face Bristol City. The Robins currently find themselves in tenth and will be keen on improving their current form by securing the win.

The Royals have now won four Championship games in a row, beating Burton Albion 3-0 last time out at the Madejski. Dominic Samuel scored his first league goal for the club when he converted at the back post. Danny Williams made it two with his finish from close range and a John Brayford own goal made it three.

While Reading are in a good spell of form, the same cannot be said about City. The Robins have won only one of their last five games and have not won away since September. In their last game away to Birmingham City a single goal settled the game. With only minutes to spare Che Adams netted for the Blues and they went on to win the game 1-0.

Recent match-ups between the sides suggest the odds are in Reading's favour going into the weekend. The Royals have won the last five games between the two sides and the last time Bristol won away from home against Reading was back in 2009. With home advantage on their side, Reading will be confident of continuing their winning run.

In terms of absences, the Royals will be without a number of their squad. Stephen Quinn remains out with a knee injury- as is Yann Kermorgant- and John Swift is also sidelined. Anssi Jaakkola has yet to return to full training so will not be in the squad. Joey van den Berg, meanwhile, has been recovering from his injury and there is a small chance he could play some part at the weekend.

Bristol have some injuries of their own to contend with as Joel Ekstrand is ruled out with an ankle injury. Winger Luke Freeman has returned to training after an ankle injury and could be in contention for a place in the squad to face the Royals.

Bristol have some talented players at their disposal, including the likes of Tammy Abraham, so should not be underestimated. Based on Reading's current form and previous performances by Bristol at the Madejski, however, the Royals will be the favourites to pick up their fifth league win in a row.