Reading FC Match Report: 2020/2021 Season - Championship


Reading: Y Meite (81)
Nottm Forest: T Holmes (og 49)

Yakou marked his welcome return from a long, injury enforced, absence with a late equaliser to earn Reading a point in game they really should have won. Reading dominated possession, created the best chances, hit the post and conceded a soft own goal. In short, it was a wasted opportunity for the Royals to strengthen their claim for a place in the play-offs, and a frustrating afternoon for their fans. Reading controlled the game for long periods but were not sharp enough to convert their dominance of possession into goals.

Reading looked full of confidence on the ball from the start and were comfortably in control for twenty minutes. Pucsas and Joao were holding the ball up and linking play nicely but it was all breaking down on the edge of the Forest box. Ameobi ballooned a couple of long range efforts into the empty stands but Raphael was not called into action until the twenty-third minute when Krovinovic tested him with a good strike from outside the box. A minute later Murray hit the target with a subtle near post flick but again the Reading ‘keeper was on his toes and made a good save. Somehow Forest were suddenly posing a threat. Joao, looking sharper than he has for a while, picked up the ball on the half way line, wriggled free of his now customary two markers and went on a great run which took him within range of the Forest goal. Unfortunately his finish was weak and straight at Samba.

Joao’s problems in front of goal continued when a well-rehearsed corner routine presented him with a clear sight of goal. Olise played the ball in to the near post where McIntyre’s deft touch found Joao ten yards out but his timing was woeful and he nudged the ball wide off the post with Samba sprawling on the ground. Laurent’s wild swipe at the ball on the edge of the box a minute later was just as poor. Puscas was set up by a touch from Joao in first half stoppage time but his effort was blocked. It was hard to see where a goal was coming from. The mystery was solved four minutes after half time. Richards, not at his best today, bounced off Ameobi wide on the right and fell over giving the Forest man ample time to weigh up his options. His low cross somehow was missed by Raphael and Moore at the near post and turned into his own net by Holmes with Murray lurking behind him for a tap in. A minute later Laurent put Puscas through, and with only the ‘keeper to beat he hoofed it miles over the bar. It was beginning to look like one of those days for Reading.

It was Forest’s cue to start running down the clock and kicking lumps out of Reading in midfield. A familiar scenario. As I have mentioned already this season Reading are the most fouled team in the Championship. The latest tally stand 537 fouls against them this season so far, a rate of one every six minutes. Forest maintained that average with 16, mainly coming in the second half, to break up play for obvious reasons. In contrast Reading have committed the fewest fouls in the league with 380. Typically only one yellow card was shown to Forest for a very late and challenge on Joao, and that prompted the virtually whole Forest team to surround the referee protesting against the decision!

Velkjo Paunovic brought on Meite with half an hour remaining but with Samedo off and playing with three up front Reading lost their shape, struggled to play through midfield, and were unable to mount any pressure on Forest. Balance was restored by replacing Puscas with Aluko and Forest began to look vulnerable. There were occasions when Reading lacked width and put the ball in to the box too early from deep areas making it easy life easier for Samba. It was clear that Forest were content to hang on to their lead as Reading stepped up the pace. Yiadom was getting into some good areas and when Olise put him through he beat Samba at his near post and saw the ball come back of the upright. It was is looking as if Reading might be leaving Nottingham empty handed.

With ten minutes remaining another brilliant turn and pass found Meite steaming forward. A great first touch and a blistering strike gave Reading the goal they deserved although Samba really should have kept it out. Reading have sorely missed the power and pace of Meite up front, and Reading are far more potent in attack when he is on the pitch. From that point there was only going to be one team likely to win but Reading ran out of time. Meite and Joao had shots charged down in stoppage time as Forest hung on for a point.

Some results elsewhere went Reading’s way, so the gap between Reading and seventh place widened slightly. With Meite back in the side, and better performances from Puscas and Joao, who actually is looking fitter and sharper now, Reading were better going forward. Given the number of free-kicks Reading are winning on the edge of the box, without Swift on the pitch and no obvious alternative, it is something to work on. Surely there must be someone else in the squad who can hit a dead ball better than Olise and Meite did today!

John Wells

This Championship game took place 228 days ago in the 2020/2021 season.