Reading FC Match Report: 2023/2024 Season - League One


Reading: P Mukairu (54)
Derby: --

This was an outstanding performance against a top six side on good form. Reading played with a confidence, expectation and belief that makes complete nonsense of their current league position. The result and the valuable three points were thoroughly deserved. From the first minute to the last Reading played with tenacity, determination and commitment, and with a little more composure in front of goal might have won by a more convincing margin. The winning goal came early in the second half when an Azeez strike cannoned back of the upright and Mukairu hammered the rebound past County 'keeper Vickers.

The back four led by Tom Holmes set the tone in the opening phase of the game attacking the ball with real conviction and winning a high percentage of tackles and headers. Reading pressed well all over the pitch and were always looking to making it difficult for Debry to mount any sustained pressure. Knibbs' contribution throughout the match was phenomenal. He seemed to pop up everywhere, pouncing on any hint of hesitation from Derby to win possession any loose balls in midfield.

Reading looked more threatening going forward and came close to taking the lead when Azeez found Yiadom in the box who made room for a snap shot which came back off the post. A glancing header from Smith drifted wide. Reading caused problems for the Derby defence getting their crosses in early but were not quite sharp enough, or sufficiently composed, in the box to take advantage of some promising situations. County failed to register a shot on target in the entire match. Resolute defending all round and composed passing in their own half kept restricted County to very few opportunities. The closest they came to scoring was a long-range effort from Hourihane which clipped the outside of the post just before half time.

County came into the game with high expectations of a win to take them to the top of the league, so the reaction to falling behind was inevitable. A triple substitution and an attempt to pin Reading in their own half only produced one good chance. John-Jules headed wide in front of goal when it looked easier to score.

The match officials were, by any standard, extremely poor. Referee Drysdale was weak and allowed the Derby players to intimidate him particularly when they were chasing an equaliser. In the closing stages he even allowed a Derby player to manhandle him without punishment. His bias (or incompetence) was clearly reflected in the match statistics. According to Drysdale, Derby only committed only two fouls (yes that's right - two!) in the entire match. Worth checking the Guiness Book of Records on that one! He was not helped by one of his assistants who seemed incapable of seeing who put the ball out of play made a string of clearly incorrect decisions.

Nevertheless, in spite of Derby's desperate attempts to save a point, Reading kept their shape and looked dangerous when they counter attacked. Derby went down to ten men for the last four minutes of stoppage time having used all five substitutes when John-Jules limped off. There more than a little concern about Reading going down to ten men when Mbengue replaced Yiadom and was booked for typically reckless challenge.

Ultimately this win was a great team performance built on some outstanding individual contributions. Bindon hardy put a foot wrong all evening. Holmes and Smith lead by example with their physical presence in key areas, and Knibbs contribution was, as I mentioned previously, simply phenomenal.

John Wells

This League One game took place 93 days ago in the 2023/2024 season.