When : Saturday, 23rd February 2019, 3pm
Where : Madejski Stadium, Reading, RG2 0FL
Capacity : 24,161
So, this is it then. The biggest game of the season – so far at least.
And let’s get one thing straight this is not going to be easy. This is not going to be a matter of turning up and collecting pointage because as we all know – Reading are absolutely dire when that is in any way any sort of expectation.
Yes Rotherham are poor but then they have the same number of points as Reading from the same number of games so that hardly makes them worse, nor Reading any better. Let’s not also forget that Reading’s record against the teams in the bottom 3 is awful with just 3 draws from 4 games with goals given away in injury time in both of the last games played against those teams.
Rotherham’s run of form this season is poor. Of their last 26 games in the league they’ve won 2 but managed to collect 14 draws in that time. They are on a run of 4 successive draws and have not won any of their last 7 in the league. Probably the most worrying stat for Reading though is the fact that Rotherham have not won any of their last 18 away league games which stretches back into the end of last season – and we can all guess to what that might lead.
Additionally Rotherham’s expectation at this level is for a struggle and a battle so their position is not likely to be a surprise to and they’ll be geared up for it. They will throw everything at Reading as they will have the belief this is a game they can win.
If Gomes’ expectation of Rotherham is for anything other than a fight everywhere on the pitch with less than zero time being allowed on the ball while being bombarded with very quick direct movement (not to mention the obligatory long throw specialist) then he should not be managing the club.
We all know how brilliant Reading are at defending against that sort of approach so more than ever they are going to seriously miss what little midfield protection may have been available from Bacuna and Rinomhota. I think we are all agreed that is the one area Gomes has to get right though just how he gets it right is anyone’s guess – personally I think you have to put O’Shea or Blackett in there, to at least give some presence, as the club cannot afford to repeat the dreadful mess they were in at Sheffield United. Either that or you play 5 at the back and try and use pace and width rather than playing out through midfield all the time.
Whatever team Is selected it has to be fired up and it has to be as determined as Rotherham and take the game to them from the start (just like the Forest game). The last thing you want is a repeat of the **** that was served up when Ipswich rolled into town
This is a must win game, it has to be. The next 2 games that follow are in a similar vein and Reading have to get a minimum of 7 points from them to really put their season on an upward swing and give pole position in the fight to survive. Sadly we all know football rarely works out quite the way you want it to.
Lancashire’s Jeremy Simpson steps up for this one
22 Sep 2018 > Reading 3-0 Hull City
21 Apr 2018 > Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 Reading
14 Oct 2017 > Leeds United 0-1 Reading
31 Jan 2017 > Birmingham City 0-1 Reading
17 Dec 2016 > Blackburn Rovers 2-3 Reading
09 Sep 2016 > Reading 2-1 Ipswich Town (managed to book 9 players)
16 Apr 2016 > Leeds United 3-2 Reading
09 Jan 2016 > Huddersfield Town 2-2 Reading (FA Cup 3)
20 Oct 2015 > Rotherham United 1-1 Reading
Reading have a good home record against Rotherham. In the 21 previous league games Rotherham have only won once (3-0 in May 1977) which leaves 14 victories for Reading and 6 draws.
Rotherham have managed just 1 goal in their last 8 visits but that goal was scored on their last trip down.
Reading have also won the last 4 played at home and, overall, have scored 33 times to Rotherham’s 14.
How to follow the game
- Get a ticket and travel to the Mad Stad
- Listen to Radio 5 Live and/or a myriad of other radio stations for score flashes
- Ring/text a mate for updates
- Use an iFollow subscription
- BBC Radio Berkshire (FM : 104.4, 104.1 or 95.4 depending where you are in the area)