Reading FC Match Report: 2016/2017 Season - Championship


READING 2 BRISTOL C 1

Reading: G McCleary (13), R Beerens (19)
Bristol C: G O'Neil (87)

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.

Reading started with the same line up as the previous week and for most of the match it worked well. From the outset McShane led the way repeatedly bringing the ball down to play short accurate passes from the back. The assured way in which Reading passed the ball is sign of growing belief and confidence in their ability. The Royals took control of the game in the early stages and City had to defend well to keep then at bay. The pressure told in the eleventh minute when Magnusson, who was finally given a yellow card in the second half after a string of fouls went unpunished by a lenient referee, tripped Samuel inside the box. McCleary struck his spot kick to Fielding’s right, but the City ‘keeper’s save fell to McCleary who made no mistake with the rebound. City hit back and Flint dragged a shot wide from outside the box. Beerens brilliant left foot volley extended Reading’s lead to silence the huge contingent of City fans, and with only twenty minutes gone, City found themselves facing a daunting task against a team at the top of their game.

Credit must be given for the way City rose to the challenge. They pressed Reading even harder and looked sharp around the Reading penalty area. Reading however are not easily unsettled these days and were even more creative in the way they played the ball through midfield from their own half. Reading maintained control of the game, and although Al Habsi had to be on his toes to make a save from Reid, he was protected well by his back four. With their two goal lead in tact at half time there was still a feeling City were not going to roll over in the second half.

Warning signs were there straight form the kick of as somehow Abraham was allowed to run straight through the centre of Reading’s midfield unchallenged only to make a hash of his shot from the edge of the box. City took control of the game and Reading were prepared to sit back and hit City on the break. It produced a lively end to end second half. Both sides squandered potentially good situations with careless passes and poor touches at the crucial moment. Al Habsi made a smart save from O’Neil City increased the pressure on the Reading defence. McCleary had a good strike well saved by Fielding. Lee Johnson did not wait too long before making a double substitution to freshen up his attack bringing on Wilbraham and O’Dowda on fifty-eight minutes. For most of the second half Reading defended well. McShane was outstanding winning tackles and headers, and making blocks at crucial times. Meite replaced Samuel, who had not been at his best, with twenty minutes left. Reading began to take control of the game as full time approach and for the first time it seemed Reading would see the game out comfortably. Williams had a good chance to secure the win when he was set up by McCleary but his finish was feeble to say the least.

Inexplicably Reading dropped very deep in the final minutes allowing City time on the ball outside the box. There was a lot pointing and waving as plyers were not marked or closed down in possession. City accepted the invitation and O’Neil reduced the lead to an uncomfortable one goal for the remaining time, which included an additional four minutes for stoppages.

Reading’s season is now gathering momentum with a fifth successive win. They look like a team with belief in their ability to win matches, and although they will almost certainly drop points in December, with key players to come back from injury at some point, the future looks very bright indeed.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 241 days ago in the 2016/2017 season.