Reading FC Match Report: 2019/2020 Season - Championship


Reading: --
Wigan: K Moore (23), Jamal (67), M Jacobs (90)

Three well taken goals gave Wigan a much needed three points in their quest to pull away from the relegation zone on a night when all Reading's shortcomings were alarmingly evident. It was a dismal evening for everyone associated with the club. In front a poor crowd, even the home fans turned on their team in the second half, initially with humour, and them with venom. Already a goal behind at half time, Olise skied a shot over the bar from outside the box in the fifty-third minute prompting a chorus of "We've had a shot!" from the usually loyal and optimistic fans in the South Stand. Soon after it was followed by chants which I would not want to publish, and finally, "We're going down with the Wigan." Clearly this was going to inspire a recovery, but given the level of performance on the pitch entirely understandable. Things were clearly not going to get better.

The game started sluggishly with nothing of any significance happening in the early stages. Both sides conceded possession constantly as consequence of unforced errors. Wigan however looked sharper overall and made slightly fewer mistakes. It was no surprise when Moore gave Wigan the lead after twenty-three minutes from a fairly harmless looking near post cross. Moving slightly quicker than his Reading namesake his deft touch glanced the ball past a surprised Raphael inside the far post. The response from Reading was lacking in energy and conviction and Reading struggled to mount any pressure on a Wigan team happy to control the game and waste time at every opportunity. (The fact that they did this throughout the game seemed to pass unnoticed by a very poor referee.) The referee certainly could not be identified as a scapegoat for what followed.

There was so much wrong it is hard to where to begin. Team selection was clearly an issue – especially in midfield. Swift and Ejaria possess tremendous individual skill but lack pace and invariably want to dwell on the ball which allows teams to organise and maintain their defensive shape. They wanted to play the game at their own pace and Wigan simply did not allow them to do so. Defensively Ejairia was weak, as was Swift at times, although he did look as if he was making and effort and made one superb last ditch tackle in the second half to prevent Wigan from adding to their lead. The usually reliable Pele was caught in possession several times, which in his defence, was in part due to a lack of options as everyone around him was hiding. He was rightly substituted at half time. Araruna, again has great touch, but seems to lack the athleticism required to cope with Championship football. He was also replaced at the interval.

Up front, Meite's movement and touch left a lot to be desired, and Baldock, whose willingness to chase and close down could not be faulted could not hope to compete in the air against physically superior central defenders, and he was not given the service he needs. Having said that he had two very good chances to score in the second half and failed to put them away, one when the ‘keeper was sprawling on the floor having saved a shot from Adams. Bowen lost some credibility in putting Puscas when he later admitted he was not fit enough to play without risk of aggravating an injury.

Defensively, Morrison had one of his poorer games. He too struggled to find passing options, and although Wigan pressed well. He looked distinctly uncomfortable on the ball. Wigan tactically got everything right and Richards and Yiadom (probably the only two players in the side with any real pace) were unable to get forward.

Apart from that things were not too bad!!

However we move on, and as it has been often said it is not how you fall down that matters but how you get up. So what next? Something therefore has to change but I'm not sure the entire solution is to be found in the current squad and more recent signings do not inspire confidence in the recruitment process. I have been bemused all season why Rinomhota has not started in midfield. He offers the pace, aggression and determination which is lacking in the current midfield. Charlie Adam is undoubtedly worth a place on the bench but he is not able to cope with a full game. Olise is showing real potential and looks ready to play at this level. Crucially the search for a decent striker or two goes on. For Mark Bowen the honeymoon period is certainly over and he sounded distinctly rattled after this game. The next week is as big a test for him as it is the players.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 273 days ago in the 2019/2020 season.