Reading FC Match Report: 2021/2022 Season - Championship
READING 0 FULHAM 7
Fulham: H Wilson (13), A Mitrovic (pen 45), H Wilson (60), K Tete (68), N Kebano (70), T Adarabioyo (75), A Mitrovic (89)
Reading's season continues to unravel at an alarming rate with a humiliating defeat at the hands of high flying Fulham. Given Reading's remarkable growing list of injuries to key players, the last thing they needed was Yiadom and Rahman their two experienced full backs departing to play the African nations Cup. With further injuries to Hallalovic, Araruna and Azeez following an embarrassing exit from the FA Cup at the weekend at the hands of non-league Kettering, few would have expected anything other than a Fulham win in spite of Reading's early season triumph at Craven Cottage. The seven goal margin of victory does not flatter the London side, but the score line does not tell the whole story.
Only five minutes into the game, Reading's only remaining fit experienced centre back joined the ranks of the wounded and limped off with what looks to be yet another long term injury. The imposed re-shuffle saw skipper Laurent drop into the role of centre back and Camara come onto fill the gap in midfield. As it turned out Camara played very well, and came closest to scoring what would have been an equaliser later in the first half. Laurent on the other hand, having filled in extremely well at centre back earlier in the season almost immediately gave Fulham a helping hand they didn't really need with an appalling pass across his own penalty area into path of Wilson who gratefully accepted the gift stroking the ball past a startled and stranded Southwood.
As far as poor starts go, this one was right up there as one of the poorest. With morale already quite low it took a lot of resolve from Reading's depleted ranks to raise their game and make a fight of it, but for the next thirty minutes, that is exactly what they did. Reading defended with energy and passed the ball crisply at times. Southwood had only one save to make and Swift was looking less lethargic than he had against Derby. Andy Carroll was winning everything in the air and it was Reading who came closest to scoring when Camara's excellent back-heeled attempt was pushed away by Rodak. Andy Carroll lifted the crowd by finding the net with an outstanding overhead kick and a long range volley. Unfortunately he was clearly offside on both occasions. Marco Silva's somewhat arrogant post-match view of the first half was "...I did not feel we had full control of the game..." and "...there were moments where we were not at our best..." Obviously it had not occurred to him that his opponents might have had had an impact on his team's ability "...to control the game..."!
In stoppage time any confidence Reading might have gained form establishing a foothold in the game evaporated when Holmes, who stood out throughout for his unswerving commitment to the cause, made an unnecessary and slightly late challenge in the box and Mitrovic drove the ball past Southwood from the resulting spot kick. All the hard work had been undone and Reading trudged off at half time trailing by two goals.
Seven minutes after the interval Reading's injury curse struck again and Tetek limped off prompting the extremely welcome return of Andy Rinomhota. In the sixtieth minute Harry Wilson delivered a crushing blow with a third Fulham goal. For what it is worth I am reasonably certain Robinson was offside when received the ball before he provided the assist. At that point Reading capitulated, and their fans, or those who could bear to watch, witnessed a deluge of Fulham goals. Puscas came on and once again failed to make any impact at all which begs the question why not give Clarke a chance ahead of him.
I have been a season ticket holder at Reading for over thirty years and it was the first time I have seen Reading concede seven goals and witnessed such a demoralising defeat. Hopefully I will never have to do so again.
This Championship game took place 12 days ago in the 2021/2022 season.