Reading FC Match Report: 2016/2017 Season - Championship
READING 1 HUDDERSFIELD 0
Reading: R Beerens (41 mins).
Reading extended their unbeaten run to eight games and moved in to fourth place in the table with a narrow and hard fought victory over league leaders Huddersfield. The first half saw The Royals dominate possession and take the lead with a deflected shot from Beerens shortly before half time. The visitors were reduced to ten men midway through the half when Van La Parra received a second yellow card for dissent, but even before the dismissal, Reading were dominating possession. The second half was a different story as Huddersfield, with nothing to lose, pressed hard for an equaliser. There were anxious moments for Reading particularly in the closing stages as the visitor’s pressure began to create some good chances. Ultimately it was resolute defending which allowed Reading to claim three points, but Huddersfield deserve credit for the way they tried to claw their way back into the game.
Full of confidence Huddersfield registered the first shot of the match on target as Smith had Al Habsi scrambling to his left to push the ball past the post. Reading soon settled into their pattern of play looking ever more comfortable on the ball. Perhaps Van Den Berg became a little over-confident getting caught in possession twice in quick succession. The second error left Obita in trouble and was scythed down by Van La Parra as he tried to retain possession. Not long after the Town player was shown a second yellow for his foolishly petulant response to the referee’s handling of the game. Pressure mounted further on the visitors defence and Swift almost gave Reading the lead with a superb strike from twenty-five yards which rattled the upright with Ward completely beaten by the pace of the shot. McShane got in on the act with a good effort from even further out which flew just wide. It seemed only a matter of time before Reading, making the most of the extra man, took the lead. On forty-one minutes good work from Harriot on the right ended up with the ball dropping to Beerens at the far post. A good first touch a crisp strike and Reading were ahead although Ward was not helped by a significant deflection.
Obita did not come out for the second half which I assume was due to an injury. His replacement, Watson, looked very comfortable in possession and, unlike Obita, managed to take players on and go past them. Surprisingly Evans came on to replace Van den Berg which was possibly to make the midfield more secure defensively, but Evans playing deeper than Van den Berg had may have encouraged Town to be a little more adventurous. Swift also was withdrawn probably due to lack of fitness but Quinn always gives the midfield a lift and it still puzzles me why he is not selected ahead of Williams. If fact Quinn might have sealed the win in the seventy-second minute with a good strike which was perhaps too close to Ward. Harriot was becoming more active as Reading looked to hit Town on the break. Kermorgant began to emerge as a key player defensively. He chased back to close players down and won some important headers when Reading were under intense pressure. His link up play was also superb and although he has only scored once this season his contribution to the team is invaluable. So Reading hung on as Huddersfield could not find the finish for which they worked so hard. Even Wells, their most reliable finisher, missed chances. It was not their day. They are a good side but need to learn to keep their opinions to themselves at certain times. Kachunga was also lucky to stay on the pitch when he continued to verbally abuse the referee’s assistant immediately after being shown yellow for the very same offence.
In his post-match interview Jaap Stam rightly focused on the need to learn from today’s game. Good though Huddersfield are it was a lack of composure on the ball from Reading that presented them with the opportunity to mount a period of sustained pressure which could have been costly. In the first half the extra man allowed Van Den Berg to push forward making it difficult for Huddersfield to get out of their own half and allowing Reading to play around and through the defence. It just did not happen in the second half. No one will be getting carried away just yet but Stam is definitely on the right track and Reading fans should be feeling very positive about this season.
This Championship game took place 365 days ago in the 2016/2017 season.