Reading FC Match Report: 2019/2020 Season - Championship


Reading: J Swift (15), S Baldock (64), Y Meite (68)
Blackburn: B Brereton (3), A Armstrong (6), J Rothwell (56), S Gallagher (87)

This may have been a meaningless end of season fixture but it was not lacking in entertainment value. Twice Rovers let a two goal lead slip before finally sneaking a goal near the end to win the game which could have gone either way. This was a complete contrast to recent Reading performances in which they have been solid defensively and struggled to score goals. Today the Royals back line gave Rovers so much space and time in front of goal they found themselves two goals down after six minutes and in the second half they ran Rovers ragged at the back coming back to three-all and might easily have scored the winner. Sadly it was Rovers who took all three points with a Gallagher header three minutes from the end.

Rovers started with an intensity that caught Reading cold. They were direct and penetrating with their passing and movement, and generally quicker in every aspect of the game. Brereton took advantage of the absence marking or pressing to score the first for Rovers. Armstrong given the same time and space added a second for Rovers three minutes later. It had the makings of a slaughter. Reading however shook off the appalling start and gained a foothold on the game when Rinomhota was fouled (a feature of the game) just outside the box and Swift struck the resulting free kick superbly into the top left corner. McIntyre sustained a head injury before half time and was replaced by Moore shortly before the interval.

Reading came out on the front foot in the second half but Rovers restored their two goal advantage after fifty-six minutes with a goal from Rothwell. It was the cue for Mark Bowen to make radical changes bringing on Baldock, Obita and McCleary in place of Richards, Blackett and Puscas. The changes had an immediate effect. Sam Baldock made more impact on the game in ten minutes than Puscas has in the last dozen games. He first pass set up Olise with a great chance on the edge of the box which was wasted. His second involvement was to head in Reading’s second goal from a delightful Obita cross at the near post. Then four minutes later he picked up a pass in the box, sat the defender down, and clipped over a perfect cross for Meite to head in the equaliser. Rovers did not know what had hit them. Then came one of those ridiculously unnecessary drinks breaks and Reading lost a bit of momentum.

It was Rovers turn to re-shuffle the pack and refresh their line up three substitutions. Their changes did not have the same impact and the game ebbed and flowed as both teams fancied their chances of scoring the winner. McCleary looked dangerous on the right with his acceleration taking him past the full back but Reading could not find the crucial finish. That honour went to Gallagher heading in at the far post from a Chapman cross. A stronger challenge from Obita might have prevented the goal. Reading did not have sufficient time to come back again but they had at least given it a good shot in the second half of a very entertaining game, even if ultimately it was a disappointing result.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 457 days ago in the 2019/2020 season.