News and Views

Improving Royals Travel To Preston

18 August 2017
By Hob Nob Anyone?

The season has got off to a frantic start as the Royals travel to Preston North End this weekend for their fourth Championship fixture of the season. The game could give an early indication on how Reading might fare this season after they seem to be improving game on game, making progress both in performances and results. The opening day defeat was followed by a disappointing 1-1 draw against a Fulham side that played the whole game with ten men. Jaap Stam dramatically corrected the faults against Fulham as Reading cruised to a comfortable victory over Aston Villa. The 2-1 scoreline failed to reflect Reading's dominance throughout the match.

Alongside Reading's first win of the season there was more positive news as players made returns from injury. Gareth McCleary and Roy Beerens both came off the bench, with McCleary looking fully fit and keen to try and win a place in the starting line-up. New signing Leandro Bacuna was forced to sit the game out on the bench, and wasn't called into action against his former club despite completing his move to Reading a few days before the match. He could make his debut against Preston. However, new sigings Barrow and Clement have both impressed will also be hoping for a start. With players coming back there is plenty of competition for places - none more so than in midfield and on the wings.

Preston's fortunes have been a mirror image of the Royals. They started with a 1-0 home victory over Sheffield Wednesday before a draw at Leeds was followed by a defeat on the road at Derby. As a result both Reading and Preston are sitting in the middle of the early Championship table with four points each. Preston have Ben Pearson returning from injury but are expected to be without Paul Gallagher. Bookmakers and pundits are firmly in favour of a Preston North End victory, but Reading will be hoping to build on the Aston Villa win and will be hopeful of at least a point.

Last season we kicked off the season with a 1-0 home win over Preston with John Swift getting the vital goal. It didn't go according to plan on the return fixture. The Royals ended up as 0-3 losers after letting in three in the opening 49 minutes. Reading's travelling fans will be hoping the Royals avoid a similar display this time around, and after some promising recent football, should have hope of an improvement this season.

Recent Meetings With PRESTON

DATE COMPETITION OPPOSITION SCORE REPORT
11 March 2017 Championship Preston (Away) L: 0-3 Read report...
06 August 2016 Championship Preston (HOME) W: 1-0 Read report...
30 April 2016 Championship Preston (HOME) L: 1-2 Read report...
12 December 2015 Championship Preston (Away) L: 0-1 Read report...
05 April 2011 Championship Preston (HOME) W: 2-1 Read report...
02 October 2010 Championship Preston (Away) D: 1-1 Read report...
02 May 2010 Championship Preston (HOME) W: 4-1 Read report...
29 September 2009 Championship Preston (Away) W: 2-1 Read report...
07 February 2009 Championship Preston (HOME) D: 0-0 Read report...
18 October 2008 Championship Preston (Away) L: 1-2 Read report...
25 February 2006 Championship Preston (HOME) W: 2-1 Read report...
13 August 2005 Championship Preston (Away) W: 3-0 Read report...
28 December 2004 Championship Preston (Away) L: 0-3 Read report...
14 September 2004 Championship Preston (HOME) W: 3-1 Read report...
02 March 2004 Division 1 Preston (Away) L: 1-2 Read report...
13 January 2004 FA Cup Preston (HOME) L: 1-2 Read report...
03 January 2004 FA Cup Preston (Away) D: 3-3 Read report...
18 October 2003 Division 1 Preston (HOME) W: 3-2 Read report...
15 April 2003 Division 1 Preston (HOME) W: 5-1 Read report...
26 October 2002 Division 1 Preston (Away) L: 0-1 Read report...
05 February 2000 Division Two Preston (Away) D: 2-2 Read report...
01 September 1999 Division Two Preston (HOME) D: 2-2 Read report...
20 February 1999 Division Two Preston (HOME) W: 2-1 Read report...
12 September 1998 Division Two Preston (Away) L: 0-4 Read report...

Victory Over Aston Villa - Things We Learned

17 August 2017
By Alex Bower

Embed from Getty Images

Reading arrived at the Madejski Stadium on Tuesday evening looking for their first win of the 2017/18 campaign. After a disappointing draw against ten-man Fulham at the weekend, the Royals were keen on going one better when Aston Villa came to town.

Two second half goals were the difference for the Royals. A great run down the left wing by Adrian Popa ended with his effort being deflected into the Villa net by Glenn Whelan via the post.

Modou Barrow made it two as he slotted home from close range for his first goal in the blue and white hoops. A goal from Conor Hourihane from outside the Reading area made for an edgy end to proceedings, but the Royals took all three points. Here are some of the things we learned from the game.

Easy Peasy
On paper, the Aston Villa squad should have provided a tough test for the Royals. 4000 Villa fans were in fine voice for the start of the game, expecting an impressive display from their side.

Other than the first and last five minutes of the game, however, Reading dominated play. The Villa players stopped pressuring the Reading defence, allowing them to play it amongst themselves for large spells. As a result, some of the passing between the home players was particularly impressive. The Royals may have been unable to make the breakthrough until the 2nd half, but they dominated possession throughout and often left the Villa players spectating.

Positive Play
The most promising aspect of Tuesday's game from a Reading perspective was the willingness to attack. A lot of the play began with the defence, attempting to draw the Villa players out from their deep defensive lines. The likes of Modou Barrow and Adrian Popa were refreshing to watch, as both were always willing to run at the defence.

After a while of watching the Reading style of play, it can come across as negative. Against Villa, however, Reading were in control and offered an attacking threat (even though no striker was playing).

Brilliant Blackett
One player who deserves a mention after his start to the season is Tyler Blackett. Blackett has been subject to much criticism in the past, but his performances in recent games have been impressive.

Playing as a wing-back, Blackett is given free roam down the left wing and has already displayed the skills in his locker going forwards as well as his strength defensively. With Leandro Bacuna now in the squad and Jordan Obita still to return from injury, there is the sense of competition for places in the Reading defence. If his performances so far are anything to go by, Blackett is putting up a fight for his place this season.

Strength In Depth
With an additional striker being the main focus at the moment, it is easy to forget the strength the Reading squad now has in other areas. For example, the winger positions have all become up for grabs. Last season, Garath McCleary and Roy Beerens were nailed on for the starting eleven. Adrian Popa and Modou Barrow played there against Villa and both excelled (to a point where they are my favoured duo going forwards).

John Swift, Liam Kelly and Pelle Clement linked up beautifully at times during the game, with George Evans used as a substitute and Stephen Quinn missing out on the squad altogether. Even in defence, the likes of Tiago Ilori and Leandro Bacuna could only watch on from the bench. With the likes of Yann Kermorgant, Jordan Obita and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson all to come back from injury still, there is plenty to be positive about at this stage of the season.

First League Win As Royals Beat Villa

16 August 2017
By Hob Nob Anyone?

The Royals chalked up their first Championship victory of the season against an expensively assembled experienced and talented Villa side with a dominant performance which was not reflected in the scoreline. Reading scored twice in the space of six minutes early in the second half and looked to be cruising comfortably to a deserved win until the visitors pulled a goal back four minutes from time through Houirihane. It was an anxious final few minutes for the home fans but anything other than a Reading victory would have been a travesty.
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Reading And Villa Look For First League Win

15 August 2017
By Hob Nob Anyone?

The Royals face Aston Villa at the Madejski Stadium tonight in a fixture that features two sides off to a slow start in the Championship. Both sides have picked up just a single league point from two fixtures and will be looking for a first league win of the new season. Aston Villa kicked-off with a 1-1 home draw against Hull before a 0-3 away defeat against Cardiff City at the weekend. Reading really should have picked up three points against Fulham on Saturday after leading against a Fulham side that played nearly the entire game with 10 men.

Liam Kelly's goal wasn't enough to defeat Fulham and Reading will need to have much more urgency and willingness to get into the opposition box if they are going to defeat Villa. Liam Kelly has scored all three of Reading's goals so far this season and with question marks over our performances so far this season will surely be first on the teamsheet tonight.

Another name certain to be one of the main talking points this evening is former Villa player Leandro Bacuna who signed for Reading two days ago. Bacuna will be elligible to play tonight. Unless the clubs have reached some kind of agreement, he could find himself making his Reading debut against the side he played for on the opening day of the season.

With little changed on on the injury list from the weekend, there are unlikely to be big changes to Jaap Stam's squad this evening. Hopefully Jaap has some ideas of how to convert possession into goals this evening or the slow start may continue.

Prior to last April's 3-1 away win against Villa, when Mendes scored two goals and Grabban grabbed the other from the penalty spot, we had lost six consecutive games against them. One of those defeats was last season's 1-2 reverse at the Madejski Stadium when Kermorgant's equaliser wasn't enough for a point when Villa won with a last minute penalty. Following the Fulham game three days ago, that kind of defeat would be hard to take this evening. Improvement is definately required this evening.

Recent Meetings With ASTON VILLA

DATE COMPETITION OPPOSITION SCORE REPORT
15 April 2017 Championship Aston Villa (Away) W: 3-1 Read report...
18 October 2016 Championship Aston Villa (HOME) L: 1-2 Read report...
09 March 2013 Premier League Aston Villa (HOME) L: 1-2 Read report...
27 November 2012 Premier League Aston Villa (Away) L: 0-1 Read report...
07 March 2010 FA Cup Aston Villa (HOME) L: 2-4 Read report...
24 February 2008 Premiership Aston Villa (HOME) L: 1-2 Read report...
12 January 2008 Premiership Aston Villa (Away) L: 1-3 Read report...
10 February 2007 Premiership Aston Villa (HOME) W: 2-0 Read report...
23 August 2006 Premiership Aston Villa (Away) L: 1-2 Read report...