Reading FC Match Report: 2018/2019 Season - Championship


Reading: --
QPR: T Leistner (64)

Consistency is the key to success in any sport, and Reading came up short at home again as their stuttering start to the season continues with a fifth defeat in their six games at the Madejski Stadium this season. Credit has to be given to a Rangers side having a similarly difficult time for a classic away performance. They simply played with an energy which the Royals did not match. The tone was set in the opening minutes when Kelly was caught in possession just inside his own half and immediately Reading's back four were under pressure. Rangers continued to stifle Reading's attempts to attack and passed and moved with a fluidity which should have given them a half time lead. The goal they threatened to score eventually came in the sixty-fourth minute when Leinster hammered home in a goalmouth scramble following a corner. The visitors then managed the game well sitting on a slender lead successfully to take all three points.

Reading were not helped in losing Bodvarsson through an injury in the warm-up. Meite stepped into his role and it has to be said he did decent enough job. Won a lot of the long balls pumped forward and the Rangers centre backs an uncomfortable time. He even came close to an equaliser in twice in the space of a couple of minutes near the end, hitting the post and then heading just wide. It was in midfield where the battle was lost. Rangers exploited the space in front of the Reading back four to keep Reading pinned in their own half for most of the opening forty-five minutes. On the whole Reading’s defence did their job limiting Rangers to two really good chances. Bidwell’s cross was met with a thumping header from Cousins which flew just over the bar on eleven minutes. Then shortly before half time a counter attack presented Wells with a very good chance but his attempt was a nice height for Walker to save and the Reading ‘keeper duly obliged. Reading’s only attempt was Kelly’s effort on twenty-nine minutes which was blocked by a vigilant Ranger defence.

Rangers picked up where they left off after the interval although Reading were slightly more purposeful going forward. Rangers however looked far more threatening. Cousins’ clean strike was saved well by Walker getting down smartly to his left to concede another which Reading failed to clear and Leinster scored from close range after Louongo’s initial shot had been saved. Rangers sensed that would be sufficient to win the game sat back allowing Reading time and space to mount some attacks. The introduction of Swift and Sims in place of Aluko and Kelly had an immediate impact as Swift’s penetrating run took him past two Rangers players with ease. We were left of ponder on the reasons why both players had not been in the starting eleven – or at least introduced a little earlier. Barrow after an anonymous first half also began to have more influence on the game.

As Reading appeared to be gathering some attacking momentum Rangers manager McClaren slowed the game down with three tediously slow substitutions – one after the other! It easy to understand why he did so from a Rangers perspective but frustrating for Reading. Reading were also using dubious methods to gain an advantage as Meite and Ezatolahi went into the book for simulation as Reading appealed in desperation for a penalty. Yiadom also went down but he neither received reward or punishment. Adie Williams assures us the referee got all three decisions correct but it has to be said Andy Davies is not the best referee we are likely to see this season. Reading did make Rangers work for their win and Reading struggled to get through their defensive shield. Meite turned well in the box and hit the post with Lumley beaten and then he headed a good ball from Ilori narrowly wide, again with Lumley beaten. Reading’s challenge slowly fizzled out as Rangers kept their grip on the game and the Royals appeared to lose faith.

In spite of their poor result no team has beaten Reading by more than a single goal this season and away form on the whole has been good. However clearly this not going to be an easy season, and although Paul Clement rightly refuses to publicly identify the weak links there are clearly one or two players who simply are not having any significant impact on the game. In some cases I’m not sure whether or not if it is a matter of being unwilling or unable to do the job required. It was also a little worrying to hear a Championship manager commenting on players being ‘leggy’ after a tough game on Saturday given in this league players often are required to perform three times in a week. To use the old cliché the next month or so it is going to be a test of character beginning with possibly the toughest test of the season away at West Brom on Saturday.
John Wells

This Championship game took place 795 days ago in the 2018/2019 season.