Reading FC Match Report: 2019/2020 Season - Championship


Reading: C Adam (pen 5), L Joao (58), Y Meite (pen 86)
Derby: --

Reading finally overcame an undisciplined rabble of a Derby side which imploded following Reading’s second, and superbly created, goal from Joao. The tone of the game was set in a feisty opening when Meite was bundled over in the box by Malone when put through on goal by Joao’s astute pass. Malone was correctly shown a red card and Charlie Adam converted the penalty emphatically. County struggling to win away from home were a goal down and reduced to ten men within the opening four minutes. Obviously the odds were stacked heavily in favour of a Reading win, but it was a far from comfortable win for the Royals.

Following this early setback Derby were clearly not going to lie down. Within minutes of conceding the first goal they swept up field and hesitancy between Blackett and Morrison presented Lawrence with a good chance to level the scores but his effort stuck the upright with Raphael beaten. Derby had signalled their intent from the start with a string of clumsy challenges, often from behind, which a lenient referee tolerated far more than was reasonable. His failure to stamp his authority on the game in this early stage came back to bite him later form the game as Derby continued to kick, trip, push and contest almost every decision. Their accumulation of seven yellow cards and one red tells the story – but it should have been more. There conduct was nothing less than disgraceful. Reading to their credit refused to be intimidated or provoked.

Derby stuck to their game plan and they looked a threat breaking out of defence. They exploited some poor defending with their direct running and slick passing and movement. In spite of being a man short they put Reading under pressure with long throw-ins, corners and some enterprising attacking football. Raphael had to be on his toes to keep out efforts from Knight. Waghorn was proving to be a handful and the back four had to work hard to keep the visitors at bay. Derby were able to make good use of the abundance space they were allowed in midfield. At times Reading looked very ragged defensively.

Reading re-grouped at half time and Adam began to pull the strings in midfield spaying passes wide to allow the Royals to get behind the County full backs. Meite in particular took full advantage with his pace and power running at the Derby defence. Derby lacked discipline throughout but their frustration spilled over into some appalling conduct when Knight was booked for simulation and an incensed crowd of Derby players surrounded the referee who was rapidly losing control. The introduction of Swift early in the second half brought more attacking flair in to midfield and with Adam and Ejaria becoming increasingly influential Reading began to make the extra man tell. The trio combined to create the breakthrough required to dampen Derby’s mood. Ejaria wriggled out a challenge and slipped a short pass to Adam who found Swift on the right who in turn slid a perfect ball behind the defence to meet Joao’s well timed run. The big man stroked it past Hamer. Metie was having a purple patch and struck a ferocious shot from well outside the box which Hamer was unable to hold. Derby kept plugging away and Lawrence hit the bar with a good strike but Reading were in no mood to let the game slip away from them now.

The game threatened to degenerate into a brawl. Blackett and Charlie Adam went into the book, but on the whole Reading were clearly not going to get drawn into a scrap. Max Lowe could easily have seen red for a blatant and premeditated lunge at Gunter which went unpunished. Pele replaced a flagging Charlie Adam bringing some semblance of defensive order to Reading’s midfield. The final nail in Derby’s coffin came when Joao raced clear of a stretched County defence four minutes from time. Forsyth hacked him down from behind as he closed in on goal. It was a clear penalty and the referee’s decision to show a yellow card instead of red is baffling to say the least. Meite stepped up and buried the perfect spot kick in the bottom right hand corner of the net. No one deserved a goal more than him, and given the mood he was in he was never going to miss.

Reading have plenty to work on defensively and there were times when they looked slow to move the ball forward but there were more positive features in today’s performance than negative ones. They are certainly hard to beat at the moment.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 340 days ago in the 2019/2020 season.