Reading FC Match Report: 2019/2020 Season - Championship
READING 1 FULHAM 4
Reading: Y Meite (89)
Fulham: T Cairney (13), A Mitrovic (26), A Mitrovic (29), T Cairney (67)
It took Fulham a mere thirty minutes to demolish a Reading side reduced to ten men following a couple of rash challenges by John Swift twenty minutes into a game dominated by the away side. Already behind from an early strike from Cairney, Reading conceded two goals in the space of three minutes following Swift's dismissal. There is no doubt being reduced to ten men was a contributing factor to this heavy defeat, but make no mistake about it, Fulham looked capable of cutting Reading open at will from the start. More worrying from a Reading perspective is the way, for the third home game in succession, the opposition have simply pressed high and effectively early in the game, preventing Reading from playing out from the back, and then exploited their alarming defensive deficiencies to go on and win the game comfortably.
Ironically the first good chance fell to the Royals in third minute. Meite ran at the heart of the Fulham defence and slipped the ball to Barrett who put him in on goal with a lovely pass behind the Fulham defence. His attempt was saved by Bettenelli and from that point it on was all about Fulham. It began to unravel in the thirteenth minute when Cairney was given acres of space and plenty of time to plant his shot in the top corner from the edge of the box. If you allow a side time and space in and around the box you are going to be punished, especially players of Fulham’s quality. Reading failed to learn from this, and when Swift received a second yellow for a lunge at Odoi, the flood gates opened. Arguably the behaviour of the Fulham players to a clumsy, but certainly not malicious or dangerous challenge by Swift for his first yellow card, can best be described as over- reaction, clearly influenced the referee’s decision.
Six minutes after Swift’s departure Mitrovic beat Morrison and Raphael to a ball whipped in from the right by Knockeart for a second goal for Fulham. Smart finish but it was a poorly defended cross. Raphael made a couple of very good saves later in the game but I would expect him to claim a ball on the edge of the six yard box. He didn’t, and unless Morrison received a call to leave it, I would have expected the centre back to at least challenge the Fulham forward. Three minutes later the game was over as Reading were carved open down the left by some very crisp passing and movement and Mitrovic swept the ball past Raphael from close range. Again the absence of marking was astonishing throughout the move, and for the finish. Reading looked demoralised, and for the rest of the half Fulham were content to knock the ball around while Reading chased the ball in vain. The Reading fans, even the loyal group in South Stand who had started the game in fine voice and full of optimism, were stunned into silence.
Reading rallied slightly in the second half after almost conceding a minute after the re-start. Once again Knockeart was left in an incredible amount of space on the right and it took a brilliant one-handed save from Raphael to prevent a fourth goal. Boye had replaced Barrett, who was almost invisible in the first half, and he was at least showing a bit of fight. Knockeart will vouch for that when he was left nursing a facial injury after he had unwisely started grappling with Boye on the half way line. I would not condone violent conduct but I must admit I didn’t feel too much sympathy for him.
With Fulham content to sit on their lead, Reading began to show a bit more appetite for the game and began to mount counter attacks as Rinomhota in particular began to make his presence felt in midfield. Fulham didn’t any help but they received a gift from Moore midway through the half in form of a poorly weighted back pass. Raphael just about managed to get to the ball but lost possession and with the Reading ‘keeper stranded Johansen sensibly rolled it back for Cairney to float the ball into the unguarded net.
Credit must be given to Reading for their professionalism in keeping their heads up and the South Bank (or at least some of them) for sticking with their team. They were rewarded in the last minute with a brilliant but irrelevant goal from Meite who hammered a long range effort past Bettinelli. Afterwards Gomes talked about finding positives from the game, but personally I was struggling to do so. Agreed the is nothing to be gained from negativity, and that is the saving grace of Jose Gomes, but he clearly has some big issues to resolve with regard to tactics and style of play – especially at home. A bit of marking and closing down opposing players in and around the box would be a start.
This Championship game took place 72 days ago in the 2019/2020 season.