Reading FC Match Report: 2017/2018 Season - Championship


READING 0 WOLVES 2

Reading: --
Wolves: I Cavaleiro (16), M Doherty (88)

Reading paid the price for their inability to take their chances as Wolves returned to the top of the league with an efficient away performance and two well taken goals. The league leaders looked good going forward but Reading certainly created sufficient openings to earn a point. It is the quality of finishing which determines success in football and in that respect Reading's season seems destined to be blighted by coming up short in that department.  

Reading started on the front foot with Swift forcing Ruddy to make a good save low to his left in the first minute. Barrrow almost opened the scoring inadvertently when he chased down a back pass and Ruddy smashed the ball into him sending it back just the wrong side of the post. The positive opening was undone by moment of slack defending when Jota slipped a pass through the Reading defence and Cavaleiro ran off Swift and Ilori bfore calmly taking the ball around Manone and rolling the ball into the net. Finishing of the highest quality.  

Wolves have invested in putting together a team full of attacking potential and it is clearly paying off. The goal took the wind out of Reading’s sails and for a while the Reading defence was all at sea as Wolves swarmed all over them. Jaap Stam took the unusual step of making an early substitution replacing Ilori with Edwards. Edwards’ introduction was clearly a good move given the way Wolves were carving their way through the Royals midfield. Ilori was not at his best and dropping Joey Van den Berg gave the defence a more secure look. There were no further goals before half time but both defences looked vulnerable.   

The second half saw Reading take control of the game, partially due to Wolves sitting on their lead and looking to hit them on the break. It was a lively game and some poor officiating by the referee and his assistants contributed to the slightly tetchy mood. In the space of three minutes Van den Berg was harshly given a yellow card for merely shrugging off a challenge and Doherty was rightly cautioned for an extravagant dive. Wolves had been playing balls behind Bacuna all afternoon until Stam wisely decided to swap him with Gunter to play on the left side of the defence. Even then Gunter was left standing on a couple of occasions. A great run by Barrow down the left was halted by a cynical foul by Bennett who received a yellow card and congratulations from his team for his ugly contribution to the game.  

It was however symptomatic of Reading's growing dominance of the game and chances began to come. Kermorgant had put in a typical performance working hard up front and winning more than his share of defensive headers but he is not yet ready for full game and was replaced by Aluko who certainly gave Reading more attacking impetus. Chances fell to Aluko, Bacuna and Barrow. The equaliser Reading probably deserved should have come when a superb move culminated with a good strike from Barrow but he was denied by a brilliant one-handed save from Ruddy. Reading’s problems in front of goal was epitomised by a scramble in the penalty area in which five Reading players looked favourite to get to the ball in front of goal but their hesitancy allowed a Wolves defender to step in and clear.   

Without Kermorgant the Reading attack seemed to lack focus. Bizarrely on one occasion only Gunter was in the box to attack a cross from Aluko! The imbalance in the attack was rectified when Bodvarsson replaced Beerens for the last ten minutes. With time running out some slick play and a an excellent finish from Doherty finally extinguished Reading’s hope of salvaging a point and the ground emptied leaving the four thousand away fans to wallow in the glory of an another away win and their return to the top of the league. Reading fans would do well to reflect on how little encouragement they gave their team when they were putting Wolves under pressure in the second half. The silence is understandable when their team is underperforming but they deserved better today.   

John Wells

This Championship game took place 25 days ago in the 2017/2018 season.