Reading Football Club News: February 2020

Five Changes As Reading Get Important Win

29 February 2020
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Reading bounced back from a midweek defeat to win their first home game since Boxing Day. There is clearly still room for improvement but significantly better showing than the heavy defeat at the hands of Wigan three days earlier. It is invariably an indication of a decent performance when the opposition manager starts to make excuses for their underperforming team as did Barnsley's Gerhard Struber in his post-match comments. Mark Bowen made five changes to the team today, some of which were due to the return of some players to full fitness, or attributed to illness; but it has to be said it brought about the desired effect. In came Obita, Rinomhota, Puscas, Miazga and Olise at the expense of Moore, Richards, Pele, Baldock and Araruna.

Woeful Reading Thrashed By Wigan

26 February 2020
By Hob Nob Anyone?

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.

Leeds -v- Reading: Both Teams Hunt Consecutive Wins

21 February 2020
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Reading face Leeds United at Elland Road this weekend, with both teams looking to make it consecutive wins for the first time in 2020.

There are question marks over Jordan Obita and Pele who could be in contention despite minor injuries. Pele returned to training only on Wednesday after taking a forced break due to a groin problem. Meanwhile, Obita has an ankle issue and may be rested this weekend. Gunter, Boye, Joao and Miazga are still out in the medium term with only Miazga expected to return during the following two weeks. Kenyan forward Ajub Masika, on-loan from Beijing Renhe, has been restricted to just one appearance off the subs bench and could miss out on a start again due to a illness he has been recovering from.

Meanwhile Leeds United have no new injuries and will have all the players who started their 1-0 victory against Bristol City available for selection again as they look to build some consistancy after a serious wobble in form as the season appearances the last quarter. Leeds haven't won two Championship games in a row this year and have lost four of their last seven games - yet somehow have managed to cling onto second place in the Championship. They have much better goal difference than Fulham in third so will stay second whatever the result, but the pressure is on to make up lost ground on Championship leaders West Brom.

Following Reading's impressive 3-0 away victory at Sheffield Wednesday, the Royals are looking safe for a midtable finish. The focus remains on the FA Cup game with Sheffield United, unless Reading can put together an unlikely run of staight wins to keep the league season alive. Reading's last three games against Leeds have been defeats without the Royals finding the net, and our last win was at Elland Road back in October 2017.

Recent Meetings With Leeds United

26 November 2019 Leeds (HOME) Championship L: 0-1 Report... 16918 18
12 March 2019 Leeds (HOME) Championship L: 0-3 Report... 17101 19
27 November 2018 Leeds (Away) Championship L: 0-1 Report... 27806 20
10 March 2018 Leeds (HOME) Championship D: 2-2 Report... 19770 19 J Bodvarsson, E O'Kane
14 October 2017 Leeds (Away) Championship W: 1-0 Report... 33900 20 M Barrow
01 April 2017 Leeds (HOME) Championship W: 1-0 Report... 23055 4 Y Kermorgant
13 December 2016 Leeds (Away) Championship L: 0-2 Report... 21242 3
16 April 2016 Leeds (Away) Championship L: 2-3 Report... 20881 15 M Hector, D Rakels
16 August 2015 Leeds (HOME) Championship D: 0-0 Report... 21581 19
10 February 2015 Leeds (HOME) Championship L: 0-2 Report... 18124 14
01 October 2014 Leeds (Away) Championship D: 0-0 Report... 20705 10
11 March 2014 Leeds (Away) Championship W: 4-2 Report... 19915 6 G McCleary, R Drenthe, N Blackman, H Robson-Kanu
18 September 2013 Leeds (HOME) Championship W: 1-0 Report... 21167 7 A Le Fondre
06 April 2012 Leeds (HOME) Championship W: 2-0 Report... -
17 December 2011 Leeds (Away) Championship W: 1-0 Report... -

Regal Royals: The Best Reading Signings of the 2010s

21 February 2020
By Hob Nob Anyone?

The 2010s was an intriguing decade for Reading, starting it off battling for promotion. One year after a lost promotion playoff final against Swansea, that fight would be won in 2012, with Reading re-joining the Premier League after a four-year absence. Immediate relegation followed though, and the Royals have struggled to get back into the big time ever since. A cruel penalty shootout loss in the play-off final of 2017 is the closest they have since come to a top-flight return.

While the Championship is a tough league to negotiate, especially when the three-year parachute payments window has long expired, all it can take is the right initiative to drastically shorten any team's promotion odds.
Reading are no different, and though long-term top-flight establishment was elusive in the 2010s, the decade still heralded some great signings. These men stand out as prime examples of inspired scouting work and transfer nous, and provide the current staff with food for thought, as another year in the wilderness beckons.

Chris Gunter
Gunter may not be the most dazzling name on this list, but the consistency he showed in the famous hoops throughout the 2010s has to be admired.
Gunter was amongst those that played in the solitary Premier League season. He stayed true to Reading after the drop, choosing to negotiate the rollercoaster that is the Championship every year rather than seeking to find a club with better promotion prospects.
His opportunities in the last couple of seasons may have been limited, but Gunter is still a solid member of the side. He has long since passed the 300-game milestone for the club, proving that loyalty still has a place in modern day football.

Liam Moore
Towards the end of the decade, Liam Moore had a hugely positive impact on the club. Like Gunter, he too has been a great servant, and while his penalty miss in the 2017 play-off final was a huge blemish on his legacy, Moore continues to be a colossal captain. The key numbers show exactly how brilliant an all-round defender he can be, with an average of 4.7 aerial duels per-game won last season. His consistency has been excellent, and he could well be at the club for years to come. Fans love his no-nonsense defending, and at the age of 27, Moore could have his best years ahead of him in the Reading backline.

Ian Harte
Right at the start of the decade, Reading signed Harte from Carlisle in what was a curious transfer on paper. Formerly of a strong Leeds side in the Premier League, the Irishman was well past his best by 2010, in spite of the experience he boasted in European competitions for the Whites. Yet, despite playing just 99 games for Reading, Harte created some great memories and scored some very important goals. His tally of 15 goals and 15 assists from those games was partly due to his legendary free-kick ability, which proved a great asset towards Reading's Championship title in 2012. The three seasons he spent at the club showed that his career was far from done, and that the Reading squad of today should cherish top-level experience regardless of age.

Adam Le Fondre
Signed from Rotherham in 2011, Le Fondre had a good spell at the club until his departure in 2014, scoring 41 goals in 110 games for the club. Like Harte, his spell included that wonderful Championship title win, but he too would find out (as constantly reflected by Premier League predictions) that newly-promoted sides can often be nothing short of cannon fodder.
Though disadvantaged by being part of an outclassed squad, Le Fondre was still highly industrious in the subsequent Premier League season of 2012/13. He scored 12 goals, including goals in four of Reading's meagre six wins that season. Perhaps most memorable were his two late goals vs then-European champions Chelsea to secure a draw.

Garath McCleary
Since signing for the club, McCleary has gone on to make over 200 appearances in the hoops, scoring over 20 goals in the process. Like Gunter, he signed from Nottingham Forest, but his status as a free signing makes his arrival one of the best pieces of business the club has made in the last decade. Having signed in 2012, McCleary was thrown in at the proverbial deep end, and faced keeping Reading in the Premier League from the off. While McCleary may not have been able to prevent relegation, he still played a huge role in the team getting to the play-off final in 2017.

Ali Al-Habsi
Omani goalkeeper Al-Habsi may not boast the longest Reading career, but the two seasons he spent at the club were brilliant. He won the player of the season award for those two seasons, and in that run towards the 2017 promotion play-offs, he collected no less than six man of the match awards. Al-Habsi also averaged 3.6 saves per game that season, which represented a personal best for his career so far. In a different world, he would have guided Reading back into the Premier League, and given them a fair chance of survival, but fate dictated otherwise.

John Swift
With over 100 appearances and plenty of goals, John Swift could well turn into a Reading legend. The 24-year-old may be a little inconsistent at times, but is surely only going to get better. He is generally great to watch, and has also shown particularly talismanic qualities on home turf at times. Notably, Reading had won ten of the dozen Championship home fixtures in which he had scored prior to their home game vs West Brom in February.

Swift's current rate of assists this season shows a growing maturity, and he has also kept the goals coming. Additionally, his pass success percentage has been consistently over 80%, with man of the match awards being a pleasingly frequent occurrence. Ultimately, Swift was not only one of the best signings of the last decade, but could also easily become Reading's best player of the 2020s.

Honorable Mentions
As with any list of this ilk, some great players are bound to undeservedly miss out. Amongst them is unquestionably Jason Roberts, with his goals being crucial in getting Reading promoted. Sadly, for the Premier League journeyman, the injuries he sustained the following season limited his impact.

Danny Williams also deserves a huge mention, with four great years at the club, and there have also been some impressive loan signings in the recent past, such as Nathan Ake, Emiliano Martinez, Nathaniel Chalobah, Ovie Ejaria and Glenn Murray. The likes of Yann Kermorgant could also make this list, for the impact that he had on the club and the memories he gave.

Leeds Next For Reading - At 39 Pounds A Ticket

19 February 2020
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Reading travel to second placed Leeds United on Saturday with the home side trying to keep their place in the automatic promotion places after a run of poor recent form. Leeds were points clear at the top of the Championship but now find themselves four points behind leaders West Brom as their season threatens to collapse as usual. They managed to scrape past Bristol City at home by a single goal last weekend after drawing at Brentford and losing both away at Forest and home against Wigan. The Royals may fancy their chances against a side that could well find themselves staying put in the Championship next season, with plenty of teams in the play-off positions hoping to claim a top two finish.

The Royals are around 19/2 for an away victory on Saturday. Given Leeds are currently 17th in the home form table and Reading sit second in the away form table it seems like good value! If you looking to put on a bet then follow this link for a welcome offer. You can also use this guide to find something that might give a return should Reading follow up their 3-0 win at Sheffield Wednesday last weekend with another victory on the road. Reading are a long way away from the top six but another 3 points would essentially secure Championship for another season.

There's been a lot in the news this week with Leeds, the self proclaimed biggest club in the Championship, mocking Reading for being unable to sell out the away end. This comes from a club who are charging an extortionate 39 pounds for the privilege of watching the game. Reading of course have been strong voices in the "twenty in plenty" campaign to make the cost of watching live football affordable. Leeds are at the other end of the scale trying their best to rip off fans. It is hardly suprising they struggle to sell tickets to away supporters who are used to much reduced ticket prices. Leeds fans who traveled to the Madejski Stadium back in November would have course paid nearly half the price for their tickets. I would hope Reading continue to stick to their cheap ticket pledge, but it must be tempting to make an exception for the visit of Leeds next season.

Reading Hope To End Poor Form In Sheffield

14 February 2020
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Reading travel to Sheffield Wednesday this weekend desperate to run a miserable run of league form. The Royals are without a league win since the very first day of the year - an away victory over Fulham that saw Reading top the form tables and climb to 14th place. After that result there was talk of a late run towards the play-offs. That dream has been well and truly shattered as the Royals have drifted back closer to the bottom three than the top six.

The reality, after just four points from the last seven league games, is that Reading's league season is over assuming they can pick up a few more points to avoid the drop. The focus will shift to the FA Cup, and the fifth round game against Premier League Sheffield United to come at the Madejski Stadium. United will be chasing European qualification so could rest a few players for the midweek game, you would expect Reading to field a strong team as they look to grab a last piece of excitement from another disappointing campaign.

Before all of that there are a whole series of league games to get through, starting with Saturday's game against 12th placed Sheffield Wednesday. Wednesday, like Reading, are also out of form with three defeats and two draws from their last five league fixtures. A win could keep their season alive with hopes of closing the gap on the top six, however they too look set for a mid-table finish.

There was good news for Reading this week as Lucas Joao returned to light training, but the former Wednesday striker will be ruled out for a few more weeks yet and won't face his old club. Chris Gunter will also remain sidelined with his groin injury and the Royals will also be without Miazga, McIntyre and Boye. Danny Loader is fit but it unlikely to be in the matchday squad after failing to make an impression on the first team.

New signing Araruna made a start for his new club on Wednesday night but failed to impress and may find himself back on the bench, making room for eithe Charlie Adam or Rinomhota who will be hoping for a start. It will be interesting to see if Puscas is dropped to the bench and if Baldock makes a start. Baldock seemed to be the better option in midweek. Puscas scored from the penalty spot to give Reading the lead against West Brom but had a limited contribution otherwise.

Reading started the season with a 1-3 home defeat against Sheffield Wednesday, which was the most recent in a run of six games without victory over the Owls. Last term we drew 0-0 on the road and lost at home and the 2017/2018 season saw another 0-0 draw at the Madejski but two defeats at Sheffield - one in the league and one in the FA Cup. If Reading are going to win this weekend it will be against form and recent history and it's the home side that will be firm favourites for the full three points.

Recent Meetings With Sheffield Wednesday

03 August 2019 Sheff Wed (HOME) Championship L: 1-3 Report... 16319 24
09 February 2019 Sheff Wed (Away) Championship D: 0-0 Report... 23412 22
01 September 2018 Sheff Wed (HOME) Championship L: 1-2 Report... 14352 23
21 April 2018 Sheff Wed (Away) Championship L: 0-3 Report... 24373 19
26 January 2018 Sheff Wed (Away) FA Cup L: 1-3 Report... -
25 November 2017 Sheff Wed (HOME) Championship D: 0-0 Report... 18382 18
17 March 2017 Sheff Wed (Away) Championship W: 2-0 Report... 26072 4
10 December 2016 Sheff Wed (HOME) Championship W: 2-1 Report... 18153 3
23 January 2016 Sheff Wed (HOME) Championship D: 1-1 Report... 18972 13
19 August 2015 Sheff Wed (Away) Championship D: 1-1 Report... 20247 18
31 January 2015 Sheff Wed (HOME) Championship W: 2-0 Report... 17755 16
20 September 2014 Sheff Wed (Away) Championship L: 0-1 Report... 29848 10
08 February 2014 Sheff Wed (HOME) Championship L: 0-2 Report... 19772 6
02 November 2013 Sheff Wed (Away) Championship L: 2-5 Report... 20368 5

Current League Form

Championship COMBINED FORM Table at: 14 February 2020
17Luton Town6204610-46LLWLLW
18Sheffield Wednesday612349-55WLLDDL
21Leeds United611449-54LLWLLD
22Queens Park Rangers611438-54LWLLLD
24Hull City6015313-101LLLLDL

Winless League Run Continues With Home Defeat

12 February 2020
By Hob Nob Anyone?

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.

Another 1-1 Draw

08 February 2020
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Reading struggled to find any kind of rhythm against a struggling Hull side, and having taken the lead with a well worked goal from Obita midway through the second half, conceded a late goal courtesy of a freakish deflected shot by Wilks. Reading had not played well all afternoon but Hull had not looked likely to get anything out of the game until their fortuitous equaliser. Reading however only have themselves to blame for not taking all three points from this fixture. The lack of energy and creativity was somewhat mysterious given the enthusiasm and resilience evident since Bowen has taken over has made them such a difficult side to beat.