Reading FC Match Report: 2023/2024 Season - League One


READING 1 WYCOMBE 2

Reading: S Smith (74)
Wycombe: N Lonwijk (16), B Lubala (pen 88)

The consensus on the concourse in the West Upper at half time was that this was the worst Reading performance this season so far, and it was hard to disagree with that assessment. However, it would be unfair to Wycombe to claim their half time lead could be attributed entirely to the poor quality of Reading's play.

Wycombe's game plan worked a treat in the first half. High pressing Wanderers prevented Reading from passing their way out of their own half, forcing them to resort to hitting long balls into their opponent's half. With their towering centre backs Lonwijk and Tafazolli winning everything in the air against the isolated Smith, the visitors kept Reading pinned in their own half for most of the opening forty-five minutes. Not only were Wycombe keeping Reading in their own half they were quick to snaffle up any loose balls in midfield. Reading gave the ball away with alarming regularity, and then conceded free kicks in clumsy attempts to win it back.

Lonwijk scored the opening goal after sixteen minutes scoring an opportunist goal with a spectacular overhead kick after the ball dropped kindly for him in the box when the Reading defence failed to clear a cross from their left side. There was not much of a reaction from the Royals to falling behind. It was nearly half an hour before they won a corner and could only muster one tame effort on target by Azeez before the interval. Things might have been a lot worse for Reading but fortunately Sadlier lost his composure when he made a complete hash of a golden opportunity to increase Wycombe's lead four minutes from half time.

Selles was criticised by a somewhat downbeat Radio Berks commentary team for not making changes earlier, but in my opinion, he was wise to delay changes in personnel until the interval in order re-organise his team for the required tactical shift.

On came Savage and Eliot replacing Craig and Ehibhationhan for the second half and the transformation was remarkable. From the restart Mola picked up ball in his own half a went past three opponents before winning a free kick before being restrained by having his shirt pulled. It was signal of intent and with Savage hitting passes with greater accuracy, penetration and urgency Reading's attack gathered momentum. Azeez was finally finding some space on the wing and was unsettling the Wycombe back line.

Two minutes into the half, Bindon hit the post with a header with Ravizzoli well beaten. The Wanderers ‘keeper had little to do in the first half, apart from getting away unpunished, with an extraordinary amount of time-wasting. (Which he consequently continued throughout the match.) Mola, Wing and Azeez had shots blocked as Wanderers began to look extremely ragged at the back in the face of the Reading onslaught.

Former Royal, Garath McCleary was given a generous round of applause by the home fans when substituted after seventy-two minutes and two minutes later Reading were deservedly level. Azeez popped up on the left and delivered a perfect cross for Smith to find the net with an emphatic and perfectly executed header for his tenth goal of the season.

With their tails up and the fans roaring them on, a Reading winner was on the cards. Unfortunately Reading could not sustain their momentum and Wanderers sensed they could not sit back any longer. Knibbs managed a couple of attempts before Wycombe regained the lead. Wanderers had looked threatening on the break without creating a clear chance throughout the second half.

Their chance when an ill-judged challenge by Mola on Campbell when he appeared to be going nowhere resulted in Wycombe being awarded a late penalty. Lubala converted the spot kick and was promptly given a yellow card for joining the Wycombe fans in their celebrations near the corner flag. With the eight minutes of stoppage time almost over Reading had a sniff of a late equaliser when Eliot burst into the box but was denied by the onrushing Ravizzoli and had to settle for a corner. At the final whistle several Reading players dropped to the ground, more in frustration and disappointment, than with exhaustion, I suspect. Again, I am at odds with team Radio Berks, I think Reading had done enough to deserve at least a point. Their second half performance was sufficiently reassuring to convince me this team is good enough to avoid relegation if provided can fend off the shortcomings of Dai Yongge and the EFL.

This League One game took place 41 days ago in the 2023/2024 season.