Reading FC Match Report: 2016/2017 Season - Championship
READING 3 BURTON 0
Reading: D Samuel (22), D Williams (29), J Brayford (og 77)
For the first time in four years the Royals chalked up four consecutive Championship wins to climb to third in the table. With Kermorgant injured Samuel was given his first start in a league game and soon justified Jaap Stam’s decision to select the young forward. Undeterred by missing the target when to ball fell kindly for him inside the box in the sixth minute, he opened the scoring after twenty-two minutes. Beerens slid the ball across the face of the goal and Samuel, as all good strikers do, timed his arrival at the far post perfectly to slip the ball past Albion 'keeper McLaughlin. It set Reading on their way for a comfortable home win.
Reading extended their lead seven minutes later when Obita, enjoying the freedom of playing on the left side of midfield, played a perfect ball behind the visitors defence for Williams to score unopposed, again at the far post. Albion almost capitulated as Reading took control of the game playing with confidence and purpose. McShane had a header cleared off the line. Albion had a good chance to pull a goal back when the ball fell O Grady inside the six yard box but he was unable to apply the finishing touch. Samuel looked certain to put Reading into an unassailable three goal lead just before half time but was brought down by a clumsy challenge from behind just inside the box. Keith Stroud’s failure to award a penalty was as poor a refereeing decision as we are likely to see all season. It also raises questions about the competence of the referee’s assistant standing a few yards away from the incident.
Reading sat back a little at the beginning of the second half, and a better side than Albion might have taken advantage; but Reading kept their shape and their discipline which is hardly surprising for a team which has not concede a goal in the league in four games. Albion’s finishing was pretty feeble throughout, Al Habsi having only had one save to make during the second half. Reading always threatened on the break and on fifty minutes McCleary had a sharp chance from another good cross from Obita but he volleyed over. However he really should have done better three minutes later after Samuel’s pace and aggression had put him in possession in the box. Showing unselfish composure Samuel held the ball up and waited for McCleary to arrive before rolling a pass invitingly into his path. Given his recent strike rate it seemed certain he would bury the chance but on this occasion his technique let him down. The Albion defence had struggled all afternoon with the pace of Samuel and McCleary and both came off to well-deserved applause to be replaced by Meite and Mendes. There was no respite for the Albion back four and Meite’s strength and persistence saw him get the better of his marker near the corner flag before hammering a shot which McLaughlin did well to block only to see the ball rebound off Brayford in to his own net. That really was game over.
Nigel Clough attributed his team’s defeat to missed chances and conceding ‘soft’ goals. Reading deserve more credit than that for very convincing win. The quality of their passing has steadily improved over the season and even with Swift, Van Den Berg and Kermorgant missing they looked a very well organised unit, comfortable in possession. Beerens, playing in the centre of midfield, linked up play well today. His ability to find space and to give and receive passes under pressure helped Reading work openings in the Albion half. Reading’s current position in the league, and their recent run of results, will inevitably and justifiably fuel talk of promotion. However before everyone gets too carried away, bear in mind the recent four victories have come against teams in the bottom six of the league. There are much tougher games coming up in December, but this squad have every reason to feel confident about continuing their good form. If they can stay in the top six until January promotion becomes a very real prospect.
This Championship game took place 725 days ago in the 2016/2017 season.