Reading FC Match Report: 2019/2020 Season - Championship


Reading: M Morrison (22), O Ejaria (30), G McCleary (79)
Luton: --

The remarkable transformation of Reading's season continued with a thoroughly convincing three goal victory over struggling Luton. Raphael beat away Crainey's shot on eight minutes which proved to be The Hatters only attempt on target in the entire match. With better finishing Reading would have been out of sight by half time such was their dominance in all areas of the pitch. However they had to settle for a comfortable two goal cushion at the interval with well taken goals from Morrison and Ejaria. There was perhaps a little concern amongst the home fans of a repeat of the previous home win over Millwall in which The Royals hung on to a two one win after leading by the same margin at half time. They need not have worried, for although Luton enjoyed a long spell of possession after the interval, Raphael was not called upon to make a save. Substitute McCleary finally removed any lingering doubts of a Luton revival with a winner eleven minutes from time.

In spite of the heavy rain the Madejski pitch was in excellent condition. The only change from the previous game, enforced by an injury to Obita, gave Richards a chance to remind us what he could do and he seized his opportunity with an outstanding display of left wing back play. His first significant contribution came on twenty-one minutes and indirectly led to Reading’s opening goal. He popped up on the edge of the penalty area in a central position and struck a powerful shot which Shea was forced to push away for a corner. Swift’s delivery from the right was delightful and Morrison nonchalantly rose unchallenged at the far post to head Reading into the lead.

The goal it has to be said had been coming as Reading dominated midfield. Rinomhota was proving a solid platform winning the ball and closing players down leaving Ejaria and Swift free to torment the Luton defence with their range of passing. Baldock and Puscas were working tirelessly on and off the ball and were getting into goal scoring situations. Baldock tested the Luton ‘keeper running onto a superb through ball from Swift. Richards had a hand in Reading increasing their lead in the thirtieth minute when he chased back to break up a promising Luton attack. Having won the ball he wasted no time in playing a ball through to Ejaria to break down the left. Ejaria held the ball up on the edge of the Luton box and waited for support to arrive. When it did he allowed everyone to stream into the penalty area before cutting inside and curling the ball inside the far post it. It was no more than Reading deserved. Four minutes later Baldock tested Shea with a good strike when Rinomhota found him with another typically penetrating pass. Reading probably should have increased their lead minutes later when Baldock again got himself into good position courtesy of a Puscas pass but unfortunately decided to beat Shea at the near post and drove his effort into the side netting when it was crying out for a shot across the keeper into the far corner. As all good strikers know if it doesn’t find the net the ball often pops out for someone else to finish.

Reading came out for the second half on the front foot. Baldock set up Swift on the edge of the box but, although unchallenged, he made a complete hash of his attempt. Reading threatened to overwhelm Luton with some superbly flowing one touch passing which left their opponents chasing shadows but failed to produce the crucial third goal. Luton steadied themselves with a long spell of possession and Reading seemed content to allow them to play the ball around until they threatened their goal when they closed them down effectively. Raphael had a very quiet afternoon. A weary looking Ejaria was replaced by McCleary midway through the second half perhaps to inject a bit of energy in midfield. Richards found Puscas with good ball to the far post but he was unable to generate sufficient power to trouble Shea. It was his last touch before giving way to Meite. McCleary given his chance was fired up and was rewarded for his effort with a fine solo goal. Sheahan dallied on the ball just inside his own half and McCleary nipped in and dispossessed him before accelerating away from the Luton defence and calmly sliding the ball past the advancing Shea. It was an excellent finish and killed the game off completely. Luton fans left, and their team looked completely demoralised. Sam Baldock, now hailed as ‘Super Sam’ by the magnificent Reading fans in the North Stand, received a standing ovation when he was replaced by Danny Loader. It feels like the fans are connecting with their team again.

This recent run of results lifts Reading five points clear of the relegation zone. (Not three points clear as Mr Dellor and his team were discussing at length in their post-match analysis. Oops!) Whilst consolidating Championship safety remains the priority, positive results away at Brentford and home to Leeds after the international break, will have everyone eyeing the other way of leaving the Championship.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 382 days ago in the 2019/2020 season.