Reading Football Club News: April 2021

Late Esteves Goal Makes It Another Draw

25 April 2021
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Pontes Esteves registered his first goal for Reading with an excellent stoppage time equaliser to salvage a little pride from a game they simply had to win. Having taken the lead in the first half which kept alive the mathematical possibility of the Royals making the play-offs, Reading fell behind in the second half to a Swansea side sparked into life by the introduction of substitute Ayew. Swansea, only needing a point to secure their place in the play-offs, virtually ended Reading's hopeful aspirations to overhaul Swansea in last two games of the season with goals from Lowe and Ayew.

Play-Off Chase Over After Just One Win In Eight

21 April 2021
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Reading's promotion challenge finally fizzled out in a goalless draw at Kenilworth Road. An inability to score goals in the final run finally put pay to any hope of sneaking into the play-offs. This evening's game was typical of so many of Reading's games this season. Luton pinned Reading in their own half with their energy and the intensity of their pressing from the kick-off, but lacked the quality on front of goal to capitalise on their dominance. Reading showed some nice touches but poor decision making on the ball resulted in promising situations frequently coming to nothing. The harsh reality for Reading is that Joao's loss of form has left Reading without the cutting edge to be considered serious contenders for promotion.

Late Draw Not Enough For Royals

16 April 2021
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Reading's chances of reaching the play-offs were left hanging by a thread after dropping two more points at home to Cardiff City, but it might have been a lot worse. Three minutes from the end of a tense scrap, and desperately chasing the goal they needed, the Royals were left stretched at the back and a City break ended with a rash challenge by Richards on Moore to concede a penalty. Moore calmly converted the spot kick which seemed to finally put pay to Reading's promotion challenge. Hope was partially restored in the last minute of stoppage time when late substitute Baldock skipped past the full back down the right and clipped in a perfect cross for Meite to head powerfully past Smithies. It was rare moment of quality in the box from Reading having dominated possession without applying the finish required.

Swift On The Bench For Must Win Match

16 April 2021
By Hob Nob Anyone?

John Swift will be on the bench as he makes his latest return from injury as Reading take on Cardiff City at the Madejski Stadium this evening. The match is live on Sky Sports and kick-off is at 6pm. The Royals must win the match to keep in touch with the top six as they currently find themselves in seventh place - five points behind both Bournemouth and Barnsley with just five games left to play.

With Reading still to play Swansea and Norwich before the end of the season, nothing but a win will do tonight and it is likely that even that won't be enough after Reading's poor form has seen them drop out of the top six.

Omar Richard is fully fit and will be back in the starting eleven in place of Lewis Gibson, and Lucas Joao will make a start after being dropped to the bench for Reading's last two fixtures. Joao was on the scoresheet earlier this season as the Royals won 2-1 at Cardiff - back when we were top of the Championship. Puscas failed to take Reading's best chance against Watford and will find himself back on the bench for Cardiff's visit.

Reading Team: Rafael, Yiadom, Holmes, Moore, Richards, Laurent, Rinomhota, Ejaria, Olise, Joao, Meite. Subs: Southwood, Gibson, Esteves, Tetek, Semedo, Aluko, Puscas, Baldock, Swift.

Reading are unbeaten in their last ten games against Cardiff.

Recent Matches with Cardiff:

26 September 2020 Cardiff (Away) Championship W: 2-1 Report... 0 1 M Morrison, L Joao
04 February 2020 Cardiff (Away) FA Cup D: 3-3 Report... 4832 - O Richards, A Rinomhota, Y Meite
31 January 2020 Cardiff (Away) Championship D: 1-1 Report... 22518 15 Y Meite
25 January 2020 Cardiff (HOME) FA Cup D: 1-1 Report... 12798 - Y Meite
18 August 2019 Cardiff (HOME) Championship W: 3-0 Report... 14252 17 G Puscas, G Puscas, J Swift
06 May 2018 Cardiff (Away) Championship D: 0-0 Report... 32478 20
11 December 2017 Cardiff (HOME) Championship D: 2-2 Report... 16670 14 C Paterson, M Barrow
28 January 2017 Cardiff (HOME) Championship W: 2-1 Report... 18558 3 J Swift, Y Kermorgant
27 August 2016 Cardiff (Away) Championship W: 1-0 Report... 15013 15 Y Kermorgant
19 March 2016 Cardiff (HOME) Championship D: 1-1 Report... 17407 17 G McCleary
07 November 2015 Cardiff (Away) Championship L: 0-2 Report... 15414 8
04 April 2015 Cardiff (HOME) Championship D: 1-1 Report... 17953 19 P Pogrebnyak
24 January 2015 Cardiff (Away) FA Cup W: 2-1 Report... 11750 - O Norwood, H Robson-Kanu
21 November 2014 Cardiff (Away) Championship L: 1-2 Report... 20643 15 M Hector

The Final Five Games

15 April 2021
By Hob Nob Anyone?

With Bournemouth and Barnsley recently leap-frogging the Royals into the play-offs positions, the Royals are now massive outsiders for a top six finish. After being in the top six all season, apart from a single week, the Royals have dropped out right at the wrong time as the season enters its final weeks. There are just five games left to play and Reading are now five points behind both Bournemouth and Barnsley. The reality is Reading look set for another season of Championship football. But is all hope lost? Can we make up the difference?

Although a seventh placed finish now seems most likely, there are enough games to turn things around. However before looking at other teams, we now have to assume we will need to win all our final games. That final run of five games, all cup finals, starts with the visit of Cardiff on Friday evening. Cardiff are just one place behind Reading but are now seven points behind the Royals, and although they can close the gap on Reading, their season is effectively now over. This is a match where Reading are favourites for the three points.

Next up is a visit to Luton on 21 April. Luton are thoroughly mid-table with mixed form and again, we should be favourites for the win. Then things turn difficult. Assuming we manage to win those two games then we could still be in the hunt for sixth place when Swansea visit the Madejski Stadium. Swansea may or may not still have a shout at automatic promotion and this stage. It's a big game and a big ask to win it - but we will have to as next up is a visit to Champions-elect Norwich City.

We can only hope that Norwich have wrapped up their league win by then and taken their foot off the gas. Only one team has won at Carrow Road so far this season.

Reading finish with Huddersfield at home. If we somehow are still in contention on the final day of the season then at least this is a fixture we would hope to win. There is the added complication that Huddersfield may need points still to keep out of the bottom three. Should we get this far, then we can hope Huddersfield are safe and roll over for us to pick up three points.

So it's not impossible but we have to keep winning. Realistically Swansea and Brentford are out of reach, so we need to do at least five points better than either fifth placed Bournemouth or sixth placed Barnsley over five matches. Bournemouth's goal difference is massively superior so we probably need do six points better than the Cherries. But this is where there is a faint glimmer of hope. Bournemouth have to play Norwich away too, but it is their very next game this Saturday. If we can win and Bournemouth lose then we could have closed the game to just two points by this weekend. Bournemouth also play Brentford, who are not yet out of the automatic promotion race.

Barnsley's fixtures are kinder as they are playing Coventry, Huddersfield, and Rotherham who are all in relegation trouble. These teams are equally desperate for points for survival, but Barnsley surely will be picking up plenty of points. Barnsley also have to play Norwich on the last day of the season.

After a season of hope, it is going to be hugely disappointing should we miss out on the top six. However after such a great start to the season we have only really been a mid-table side since then, and so the table doesn't lie. All we can do is hope the team are fired up for one final push and try and finish the season as we started it. If we someone manage to put the wins together then we could still sneak into the top six. Although, we'd only lose in the play-offs anyway...

Final Five Games:

Bournemouth: Norwich (a), Millwall (a), Brentford (h), Wycombe (a), Stoke (h).
Barnsley: Coventry (a), Huddersfield (a), Rotherham (h), Preston (a), Norwich (h).
Reading: Cardiff (h), Luton (a), Swansea (h), Norwich (a), Huddersfield (h).

Play-Offs Unlikely After Defeat At Watford

09 April 2021
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Two superb strikes from Watford's Ismaila Sarr in the space of two minutes early in the first half virtually put pay to any hopes Reading had of achieving the victory that desperately needed to keep them in the promotion race. Feminia and Zinckernagel were credited with an assist for the each of the goals but in reality both were simply moments of outstanding individual skill. Reading to their credit never gave up, playing football worthy of promotion contenders throughout, apart from where it really mattered, in front of goal. Royals have now lost so much ground on their they are now reliant on their closest rivals slipping up, as well as facing a run of very tough games.
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Opportunity Missed

02 April 2021
By Hob Nob Anyone?

With a little over fifteen minutes remaining, in a game that had degenerated into an ugly scrappy spectacle Lucas Joao was presented with a golden opportunity to give Reading an extremely valuable away win. Only he will now why he failed to roll the ball into an empty net with Barnsley 'keeper stranded. It is remarkable how such a talented player has declined to extent even the simplest finish seems to be beyond him. Reading may well pay dearly for the loss of two pints today come the end of the season.