When : Saturday, 17th October 2020, 3pm
Where : Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough, Cleveland, TS3 6RS
Now Reading have done it, going to Middlesbrough on the back of the best league start for 35 years and, while I wouldn’t call it the proverbial banana skin (those nightmare scenarios will follow in the next week courtesy of Wycombe and then Rotherham), fan expectation is starting to be raised and perhaps to some anything but 3 points might be seen as a disaster, the world ending and the cause of messageboard meltdowns.
Well as we know only too well there is no such thing as a easy pay out in this league. Whoever you are you can’t just rock up, go through the motions and go home happy, you have to fight and earn those points and none more so in looking for quarter from Mr Warnock.
Middlesbrough have been a right royal pain to Reading for the last few meetings and really are owed, big time. For SEVEN games over the last 5 years Reading have been quite poor in this fixture wherever it’s been played. From those games Reading have managed just 4 goals, conceded 12 and mustered ZERO points. That’s right nothing, nil, zilch, nada, collected not one bean. Even when Woodgate was ‘boro manager last year Reading managed to lose this fixture and now Colin’s got the gig so we know it’s going to be a fight where you have to be on your mettle to get something.
The ‘boro currently sit 10th in the division and are proving very difficult to beat with just the one defeat from the club’s opening day trip to Watford. They’ve also grabbed draws at home to Bournemouth, away at QPR and, like Reading, snaffled a home win v Barnsley. However in each league game they have conceded 1 goal so there is something there for Reading to work on.
Current games suggest Warnock has taken to a 3-5-2 formation which will mean a fairly crowded midfield for this game and make it difficult to try and play through. Like Reading ‘boro play a fairly fluid sort of game so it should be a fairly cagey but interesting battle of wits.
The ridiculously hectic international break has seen some nations forced into 3 games in a week and one of those sides was Northern Ireland meaning Middlesbrough pair George Saville and Paddy McNair are in a gruelling run of games and won’t get back to ‘boro until Thursday. Therefore we can hope they won’t quite be at their best for this one. In addition Grant Hall will miss the game through injury as will Ashley Fletcher with a hamstring problem. However Middlesbrough’s new striker Chuba Akpom is forming a decent partnership with Britt Assombalonga having grabbed 2 goals from 2 appearances already. Finally Middlesbrough have re-signed Man City winger Patrick Roberts on loan this week and are being linked with Chelsea’s Baba Rahman.
Reading are without Swift, Araruna and Yiadom but will have Joao and Ejaria available again. In addition Reading will welcome new signings Esteves and Semedo into the squad for the first time. Esteves is the more likely to start of the two but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him only on the bench given he will only arrive to meet up with his new team mates on Thursday.
The transfer window shuts finally at 5pm on Friday so both clubs may see further comings and goings to the squads on duty. Reading continue to be linked with various names with Joe Pigott (unlikely, imo) and Joel Latibeaudiere (quite possible, imo) seeming to be at the fore currently but we shall see what we shall see.
Bond is back. After a month away Darren Bond returns in the next installment.
12 Sep 20 > Derby County 0-2 Reading
11 Jul 20 > Charlton Athletic 0-1 Reading
14 Jan 20 > Blackpool 0-2 Reading (FA Cup)
26 Nov 19 > Reading 0-1 Leeds United
10 Nov 18 > Reading 2-2 Ipswich Town
15 Sep 18 > Preston North End 2-3 Reading
03 Apr 18 > Aston Villa 3-0 Reading
20 Jan 17 > Reading 0-1 Brentford
30 Nov 17 > Reading 3-0 Barnsley
11 Feb 17 > Reading 0-0 Barnsley
13 Aug 16 > Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 Reading
14 Mar 15 > Watford 4-1 Reading
30 Aug 14 > Middlesbrough 0-1 Reading
Though league games with Middlesbrough stretch back all the way to 1927 they are a bit rare with only 17 played in Middlesbrough to date, most of which have been since the late 80s. Of those 17 Reading haven't done too badly, for a long northern trek to a club that has only ever spent 2 seasons outside of the top 2 divisions, by recording 4 wins to 'boro's 9 however Reading have conceded just over twice as many as Middlesbrough (27 to 13) in that time.
Since 'boro moved to the Riverside Reading have visited on 12 occasions and won 3 but have lost 8 (including each of the last four visits by one goal) so the suggestion is there won't be any sitting on the fence and one side or the other will run out winners.
So a draw may well be a good bet then..
How to follow the game
- Get an imaginary ticket and watch it in your head
- 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)