Reading FC Match Report: 2020/2021 Season - Championship


Reading: M Olise (pen 30), L Joao (65), A Yiadom (88)
Sheff Wed: --

The return of George Puscas, and the resulting change of formation, helped to continue the revival of Reading's flagging promotion campaign. Puscas pounced on a loose pass on the halfway line and his pace took him away from the Wednesday defence and into the penalty area where he was brought down by Borner. In view of recent failures from the spot, everyone, including Lucas if he was honest, was relieved to see Michael Olise step up a tuck away the penalty to give Reading the lead. It was a big decision for manager Veljko Paunovic to take to take Joao off penalty taking duties, but that decision, combined with the inclusion of Puscas, took pressure off the out of form striker paid dividends in the second half when Joao ended his recent goal drought with a superbly composed finish and effectively kill off hope of Wednesday snatching a point with a late goal. Andy Yiadom put the icing on the cake with a measured finish late in the game. It was a good day for the Royals.

Wednesday may be in deep trouble at the bottom of the table but under their new manager Darren Moore, one of the better mangers in this league, they started well and almost took an early lead when Lees’ far post header hit the bar with Raphael beaten. Without Rinomhota and Ejaria reqiured re-allocation of roles, and it proved to be effective, possibly more effective than the previous set up. The inclusion of McIntyre gave Reading a physical presence in midfield as Wednesday’s Hutchinson as will testify after receiving treatment following a fair but ‘committed’ challenge on the halfway line in the second minute. Ejaria’s absence resulted in Olise seeing much more off the ball, a situation he clearly relishes, and with Laurent playing deep, and Samedo covering a staggering amount of ground, Reading had nice blend of energy, creativity and steel. Richards and Yiadom were also outstanding again contributing to attack and defence equally effectively. The difference today was also very much about the quality of the finishing.

For a while it looked like Reading were going to suffer an anxious second half defending a narrow lead with Wednesday commendably playing as if they believed they could, even with ten men, get back in to contention. Reading controlled the game with Olise pulling the strings in midfield. Holmes almost extended Reading’s lead with an excellent touch and shot which shaved the post. The turning point came after sixty-five minutes with a goal of the highest quality. A shimmy and short pass by McIntyre released Olise to weave his way towards the box and find Yiadom wide on the right. In turn, Yiadom’s simple but perfectly weighted pass found Joao who, showing tremendous awareness, composure, and accuracy, stroked the ball past Wildsmith. Joao was not happy about being immediately substituted but I think when he reflects on the decision he will appreciate there were good positive reasons for doing so which will benefit him and the team in the long run.

Reading rounded off a very good performance with a flourish. Richards progressed down the left. A couple of step-overs left a defender off balance, was followed by a pass to Aluko who dropped his shoulder, lost his marker before accelerated away from him, and dug out a deep cross which found Yiadom lurking on the edge of the box. Yiadom waited patiently for the ball to reach him and nonchalantly advanced, picked his spot and drove the ball unerringly inside the far post. It was a goal scored with the kind of swagger expected from a side with an eye on the paly-offs.

Three wins, three points and three clean sheets has restored confidence and given everyone a lift. The recent run of games against teams near the bottom of the league has come at the right time for Reading because, although they were far from easy games to win, it has given Veljko Paunovic the opportunity to re-align his tactics and formation address the issue of scoring goals. Reading are indeed very fortunate to have a manager who likes his team to play exciting football, and defend with determination and discipline. What makes it work so well is his ability to deploy and motivate his players to get the best out of them. He adjusts so positively and creatively when changes are required due to injury and loss of form. He is building very strong foundations for this club.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 144 days ago in the 2020/2021 season.