Reading FC Match Report: 2018/2019 Season - Championship


Reading: Y Meite (8), L Kelly (45), L Bacuna (66)
Bristol C: M Pack (23), J Brownhill (45)

Reading finally produced the kind of performance their fans have been craving all season. Having twice taken the lead, and on each occasion meekly conceded an equaliser shortly afterwards, Reading fans awaited the second half with a degree of apprehension. However today the Royals regained the lead with a superbly created and finished goal midway through the second half, and produced a gritty kind of rearguard action which has seemed beyond them so often this season. Paul Clement must be delighted, and just a little relieved that his team, having scored three very good goals, found sufficient collective will and determination to hold on to their richly deserved lead to claim a valuable three points. The Reading manager, having endured listening to some pretty damning statistics about his team this season, was quick to point out that this was their third win in the last four home games. It was day when everything worked out in the end and the fans responded favourably doing their bit sensing their team had decided enough was enough and were determined not to let this one slip away.

Reading got off to a flying start opening the scoring after eight minutes when the ball fell kindly to Meite in the box, and he took full advantage of the situation drilling the ball calmly past City ‘keeper O’Leary. Reading were firmly in control of the game. Blackett was providing excellent (if somewhat risky) entertainment showboating on the edge of his own box and providing width for Reading’s attacking play on the left. Rinomotha, starting for the first time looked completely at home in midfield composed on ball and quick to put his foot in to win possession. His confidence would certainly have grown when he turned and left two City players in his wake on the half way line.

Reading were noticeably more penetrative with their passing and the City defence were clearly struggling to cope. It all looked to be going Reading’s way until their defensive fragility again brought them down to earth with a bump fourteen minute later. Jack Hunt wrong footed the Reading back line by holding the ball on the edge of the penalty area and waited for the defence to push up before sliding a perfectly weighted ball through a gap for Pack to run onto and guide past the unprotected Walker. It was a well taken goal which could have been prevented with better marking.

Any momentum Reading had generated immediately evaporated and City were very much back in the game. Walker needed to spread himself to save from Eliasson as City began to play some more progressive football. Diedhiou was given an alarming amount of time and space twenty yards from goal. Fortunately for Reading he put his effort over the bar. Reading’s cause was not helped when Meite had to be substituted just before half time having struggled with an injury sustained early in the game. It was a change which left Reading looking a bit lightweight up front. McCleary came on and Baldock was deployed as a central striker.

In first half stoppage time Kelly produced a contender for goal of the season. Receiving the ball just outside the box he glanced up assess his options before curling a brilliant strike inside the far post giving O’Leary absolutely no chance whatsoever. Reading fans had barely sat down from celebrating his magnificent effort before City were level. A poor defensive header allowed City to pop another ball into the danger area. Reading’s defence unforgivably allowed City to win two successive headers in front of goal before Brownhill nipped in to poke it past Walker. It was unbearably frustrating to concede so soon after taking the lead in such spectacular fashion. To lose the lead twice must have undermined the confidence of the Reading players and given City a real lift. As the second half got under way City clearly fancied their chances of more than a point. The visitors won two corners early in the half and put Reading under pressure. Bacuna won possession and broke into the City box but had his attempt blocked. It was an open game as both teams went in search of a third goal. On sixty-six minutes a move which started inside the Reading half saw McCleary, Kelly, Barrow and Bacuna exchange a series of slick passes ending with a Bacuna taking a touch before placing the ball deliberately and calmly just inside the post beyond O’Leary’s outstretched arm. It was goal worthy of winning any game. The big question on everyone’s mind at that point was whether or not Reading could maintain their advantage or would they concede a third equaliser. Reading’s back four rose to the challenge with O’Leary and Moore looking assured in everything they did. City gave the Reading defence a thorough examination. Their task was made harder by Baldock’s inability to hold the ball long enough to receive support and Barrow’s contribution had become virtually non-existent.

Rinomotha had ‘taken one for the team’ in terminating a City counter attack so Paul Clement sensibly replaced him with Swift presumably to help retain possession to give his busy defence a break. Brownhill hit the post with an improvised strike as the ball seemed to have gone beyond him as City threw everything at Reading. Walker, having been selected following an injury to Jaakkola, had looked unconvincing at times, particularly in dealing with crosses, redeemed himself with a good save from a fierce close range attempt by Weimann near the end of regulation time. The nail-biting five minutes of stoppage time dragged for the home fans but when Liam Walsh struck a free kick over the bar from a promising position, the game was up for City.

It was significant outcome for Reading not just because of the three points but for the nature of the victory. Some of Reading’s attacking play was direct and creative. The finishing was assured, and the five yellow cards were evidence of an appetite for a battle. This was not a perfect performance but it was certainly a step in the right direction, and from a spectators point of view it was great entertainment.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 612 days ago in the 2018/2019 season.