Reading FC Match Report: 2016/2017 Season - Championship


READING 1 ASTON VILLA 2

Reading: Y Kermorgant (54).
Aston Villa: J Kodjia (38), J Ayew (pen 90).

A last minute penalty ended the Royals’ unbeaten home run this season, and provided Villa with their first away win in fourteen months. The statistics prior to this game pointed to a home win but, Tim Dellor please note, statistics are of little value in predicting the outcome of football matches. The arrival of Steve Bruce clearly gave the visitors a lift, but also they have one of the strongest squads in the Championship and will surely be challenging for promotion by the end of the season.

In spite of dominating possession once again Reading were unable to convert that dominance into goals. Villa scored against the run of play just before half time with a somewhat fortunate deflected strike credited to Kodjia. Reading equalised early in the second half through Kermorgant which seemed prompt Villa to raise their game. Having sat back in the first half they changed tactics and pressed Reading higher up the pitch forcing them to play a greater percentage of long balls. The game became more open with Reading exploiting the space which opened up as Villa pushed forward. Ultimately Villa had more of a cutting edge refreshing their attack with Amavi and Ayew. As Reading tired and looked increasingly likely to win the game. In the last minute Ayew took a tumble over Moore’s outstretched leg and Andy Woolmer awarded his second penalty of the night. Ayew stroked the ball past Al Habsi with supreme confidence to send the 4000 travelling Villa fans into delirious celebration.

Reading fielded the same starting eleven as on Saturday at Loftus Road. Villa seemed content to sit back and allow Reading to play in front of their defensive shield and wait for their chance to hit Reading on the break. It worked perfectly for them restricting Reading to a couple of hopeful strikes on goal that did not trouble ‘keeper Gollini. Reading’s build up was impressive at times with some superbly struck long range passes into wide positions. There was also a greater willingness to play balls in to the space behind the Villa back line. Sadly nothing came of their good work. Villa exploited the space behind Gunter to mount an attack which ended with Kodjia giving them the lead when his shot took a huge deflection off Blackett to deceive Al Habsi.

Early in the second half Beerens knocked a brilliant ball over the Villa defence to provide McCleary with a run on goal. Cissokho brought his run to an end with a foul in the box. Williams’ spot kick was blocked by Gollini but Kermorgant was following up and headed firmly over the grounded ‘keeper for the equaliser. The visitors were stung in to action by the goal and went looking for the winner. The game became more open and chances began to open up at either end. Urged on by their fans Villa put the Reading back four and Al Habsi under pressure at every opportunity. The Reading ‘keeper looked particularly vulnerable although Reading to their credit stuck to their game plan. Evans hit a good shot which Gollini always looked likely to save. Kermorgant got his head to a couple of crosses without generating sufficient power to test the ‘keeper. Perhaps if Jaap Stam had introduced a couple of substitutes they may have coped better with the threat posed by a rejuvenated Villa attack. Reading began to look weary and gaps began to appear at the back. The pace of Hutton and Adomah was giving Blackett a torrid time and Beerens was not able to offer much protection. Ayew came on for last fifteen minutes and caused sufficient panic to win the crucial penalty. McCleary fired a shot past the post in stoppage time but Villa held on for a very important win for them. For Reading it was disappointing end to frustrating evening.
John Wells

This Championship game took place 252 days ago in the 2016/2017 season.