Reading FC Match Report: 2019/2020 Season - Championship


READING 1 WEST BROM 2

Reading: G Puscas (pen 11)
West Brom: M Pereira (26), K Bartley (49)

Reading may have been beaten by a very good team, probably destined to win this league and certainly achieve automatic promotion to the Premier League, but they should feel proud of the character and determination they showed this evening, especially in the second half. Albion are not the highest scoring team in the Championship without good reason, and from the start they looked likely to score every time they attacked. Reading to their credit were not intimidated by their potent attack and in fact took an early lead through a coolly converted penalty from George Puscas after a bizarre handball by Bartley.

The response from Albion was befitting a team looking to go six points clear at the top of the league and equalised following a typically slick move and sharp finishing from Pereira. Reading were however clearly not going to roll over, and defended with typical discipline and determination. Albion tore into Reading immediately after half time and finally went ahead with a looping header from the Bartley who must have been relieved to have compensated for his earlier moment of madness. Albion’s attempts to disrupt play and waste time throughput the second half reflected the level of respect they showed Reading as they made a commendable effort to find an equaliser. In fact it took a very tight offside decision to deny Meite when he bravely beat ‘keeper Johnstone to Charlie Adam’s superb cross to head into an empty net.

The Reading fans were largely responsible for giving their team a lift by creating a tremendous atmosphere from the kick-off. The game was played at a high tempo from the start, but the fundamental difference between the teams was the quality of the passing and movement. Albion passed the ball quickly and their movement in the attacking third was at times mesmerising, almost telepathic. In contrast Reading looked baffled and hesitant around the edge of the box and opportunities to shoot or pass were lost by an extra touch or a delay in releasing an early ball. Moore and Morrison were solid at the back, Yiadom had clearly not lost any sharpness in the long lay-off due to injury’ and Obita looked far more comfortable in his role at full back and turned in a very mature performance. His delivery from corners were a vast improvement on Swift’s in recent games.

Raphael had a busy night and made some good saves and did well to keep the score down (with the aid of the cross bar on two occasions!) In an early attack a powerful strike got under his body and bounced up onto the frame of goal and away to safety. The game was lost in a torrid opening to the second half when Albion might have scored on at least four occasions in as many minutes. It was like the tide coming in as wave after wave of attacks were launched by Albion. Krovinovic was found in space on the left and forced Raphael get down smartly to save. Robinson found space in the box and hit the bar, and then Barltey nodded Albion ahead at the far post with Raphael in no man’s land. A minute later Livermore swept the ball over from close range. For a while it looked like it could turn into a massacre, but Reading as we have seen this season, do not give up easily, and managed to steady the ship.

Ejaria showed another side to his game using his undoubted skill and strength to play Reading out of tight situations on the left side of midfield and burst forward pushing Albion onto the back foot. His response was commendable. Obita was a solid as a rock alongside him keeping his head under provocation – and yes Albion did, especially Pereira, try to wind Reading up. Swift was struggling throughout with the pace of the game and Rinomhota gave Reading a bit more bite defensively, and pace going forward when he replaced Araruna. Araruna did enough to show he has the qualities of an outstanding midfield player. His touch was sublime and his movement and reading of the game was noticeably sharper than some of his team mates.

As hard as they tried Reading simply did not have sufficient fire power to test Albion’s defence. Only Meite looked likely to trouble the ‘keeper, which shows Bowen might be looking to improve in that area before next season even when Joao is available again. Surely it must be worth considering playing two up front and making room for Rinomhota and Pele in the starting eleven.

I was pleased to hear Mark Bowen talking positively about his team for their efforts in his post-match interview – they had earned his praise. It would have been good for their morale also to receive a bit more from the fans as they trudged off having put in a decent shift against a very good team who not only pass the ball well, but also work their socks off from start to finish.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 287 days ago in the 2019/2020 season.