Reading FC Match Report: 2017/2018 Season - Championship


READING 3 BARNSLEY 0

Reading: D Edwards (20), J van den Berg (29), J Dadi Bodvarsson (88)
Barnsley: --

Reading continued their recent good run of results with a convincing three goal win at home to climb into a more comfortable mid table position. Edwards gave the Royals the lead on twenty minutes with a glancing header from a Kelly corner whipped in at the near post which surprised 'keeper Davies with its pace and power. It forced Barnsley to commit more players to attack giving Reading more time and space to add to their lead. Joey van den Berg added a second goal nine minutes later with a thunderous strike from outside the box. Barnsley posed more of a threat in the second half following three half time substitutions but Bodvarsson put the result beyond doubt two minutes from time heading home the rebound from a Popa strike which came back off the bar.

As in recent games were trying to get the ball forward with greater urgency and their running and passing was sufficiently direct to unsettle the visitors. Aluko found room to get a shot away inside the box in the early in the game but under pressure he missed the target. Aluko and Barrow were prepared to take players on and some promising attacks did not quite come off but overall it was an enterprising start to the game. Edwards goal after twenty minutes was just what Reading needed to get a foothold in the game and when Joey van den Berg burst through from the halfway line he was looking for passing options before he realised there were none and settled for lashing the ball into the net from 30 yards out to increase their lead. Again Davies got a hand to it but the power and pace of the strike was sufficient to beat him. Reading were dominant and might have added more goals before half time. There were glimpses of goal for Barrow, Aluko and Kelly on the edge of the box but they did not follow van den Berg’s example and hesitated and the opportunity passed. Kermorgant broke down the left latching onto a Barrow pass and delivered an outstanding pass to Bacuna arriving in to penalty area with a well-timed run. Bacuna struck his volley well but just wide of the far post.

Barnsley manager Heckingbottom realised drastic action was required to prevent a rout and made three changes at half time. The impact was immediate as his team won two free kicks in dangerous positions around the Reading penalty area. Barnsley were far more enterprising following the changes and with Reading making some careless mistakes in their own half threatened to get back into the game. Bodvarsson replace a tired looking Kermorgant early in the half and had a significant impact on the game giving Reading’s attack more of a cutting edge. Barrows’s pace on the left wing looked likely to produce something for Reading on the break and another goal seemed inevitable. Aluko was set up by Barrow but once again he was unable to keep his composure sufficiently to find the contact required to tuck the chance away. He was soon to be replaced by Popa who looked full of energy, pace and enthusiasm. Moore came close to increasing the lead with a run and strike which hit the inside of the post and flew across goal and away to safety. Up at the other end more sloppy defensive play created a chance for Barnes to hit the post. With time running out Reading worked a short corner releasing Popa to smack a shot against the bar. Bodvasson reacted smartly to head home the rebound. It gave the scoreline Reading deserved and an equally deserved clean sheet for Manone.

The biggest disappointment of the evening was the low attendance and a lack of appreciation of the progress made by Stam’s talented squad. Stam made it clear in his post-match comments he is fully aware of the negativity coming from some fans and the local media. He was the first to admit there was room for improvement today but a bit more encouragement and enthusiasm from fans and media might help maintain and accelerate the upward trajectory which is certainly increasingly evident in recent games. Over half of this season’s goals (twelve out of twenty-three) have been scored in last six games producing three wins, two draws and one defeat (against the league leaders). Surely that form is cause for optimism not scepticism.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 15 days ago in the 2017/2018 season.