News and Views

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.

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