News and Views

Top Of The Table Clash As Middlesbrough Visit

02 October 2015
By Hob Nob Anyone?

As if from nowhere, Reading suddenly find themselves involved in a top of the table Championship clash as Middlesbrough visit the Madejski Stadium tomorrow. Reading find themselves in third place - our highest position since relegation from the Premier League - ahead of what should prove to be an interesting match against opposition that expect to be serious promotion contenders this season. The Royals top of a group of six teams with 15 points and are five points behind the visitors. Middlesbrough are the form team in the Championship and come to Reading after a run of five straight wins. They've scored thirteen goals in those five fixtures and conceded just three, and will be expecting to collect at least a point in Reading.

Reading have put together two away victories in the league but will be looking to improve from our last home league performance - the 0-1 defeat to Derby County. Reading looked well set for victory in that game with Derby - until Orlando Sa received his marching orders just before the break. Reading failed to build on being the better side once they were down to ten men and the single goal was enough for Reading's only league defeat since the opening day of the season. The Royals have won two league matches either side of that Derby defeat and will be looking to build on that form. Orlando Sa will be back in the squad, after completing his three match suspension, but a recall to the starting eleven is certainly not guaranteed. Before his red card against Derby Sa hit a hat-trick against Ipswich, but since then Reading haven't suffered too much without him.

Orlando Sa grabbed the headlines for his hat-trick one match and his sending off the next, but since then Nick Blackman continues to win everyone over. It will be Blackman's name that is first on Steve Clarke's team sheet. Blackman has scored seven goals in seven matches in all competitions. It is only the Derby defeat in which he has failed to score in the last seven games. Last week Blackman put Reading on their way to victory at Burnley with an early goal before Piazon made it 2-0 to effectively seal the win, despite a late Burnley goal. Clarke remains spoilt for choice, with effective players waiting for their chance on the bench.

The depth of the squad will allow Clarke to rest Stephen Quinn and Matej Vydra who are both returning from injury. Clarke is unlikely to risk an early starting return for either of those players when his side continues to look so convincing without them. Anton Ferdinand is also expected to miss out again - but that won't give Clarke any real headache as he can continue with the centre back pairing of McShane and Hector.

The pre-match odds show that anything could happen between these two teams that both have big expectations for the season. Reading are very narrow favourites for victory at 6/4. The draw is 9/4, while a Middlesbrough win is 7/4. However, the best bet has to be Nick Blackman for first goalscorer at 11/2.

Reading and Middlesbrough - Head to head record (since August 1994)
Games Between Reading and Middlesbrough 19
Reading Wins 7
Middlesbrough Wins 7
Draws 5
Reading Goals 20
Middlesbrough Goals 23
Average Goals Per Game 2.26

Share this article: