Reading FC Match Report: 2018/2019 Season - Championship


Reading: J Swift (23), J Robinson (og 87)
Nottm Forest: --

Any doubts about the positive impact of Jose Gomes on Reading Football Club were dispelled by this result, and more significantly, by this performance. Bolstered by the signing of two promising young midfield players (Ovie Ejaria and Lewis Baker) on loan, Reading took control of the game from the kick off and outplayed a strong Forest side in every department. They played with an energy and enthusiasm which has been noticeably absent for a very long time. As a team they were unrecognisable from the group of players which has so frequently failed to deliver this season. Jose Gomez clearly has many attributes which indicate he will be successful, but from what I can see, there is one fundamental difference from his recent predecessors. He simply expects more from his players. He is confident, positive, personable and knowledgeable, but I suspect also, behind the scenes. Single- minded and utterly ruthless when it comes to the way he manages his squad. Already several players have gone and it would appear there are more on their way soon.

Bodvarsson played up front on his own and his willingness to work hard for the team was evident in the second minute chasing down a ball wide on the right to win possession and deliver an excellent ball to the far post which debutant Ejaria got his head too but with insufficient power or accuracy to trouble Pantimilion. Throughout the team they pressed Forest never allowing them any time and space to play the football they were clearly capable off. There was a willingness and confidence to take players on, to play the ball forward, and make positive runs off the ball. It was joy to watch and the Reading fans loved it. I lost count of the times Reading won the ball back immediately when possession was lost. Most of the tackling was committed and well-timed and Forest did not like it one bit. The resulting lack of discipline ultimately didn’t cost them the game but certainly made the second half more comfortable for Reading as Fox and Darwika were deservedly dismissed for disgraceful challenges. In fact the attitude of the Forest team was poor throughout. Maybe losing their manager the day before the game didn’t help but in my opinion Reading, in the mood they were in today, would have seen them off anyway.

Swift gave The Royals the lead after twenty-three minutes finishing a move which epitomised their new found style of play. Sharp forward passes from Bacuna and Swift released Barrow on the right who went past the full back and looked up to see Reading players streaming forward and picked out Swift’s run perfectly who without breaking stride placed the ball inside the far post. It was goal which underlined the undoubted ability of a player who has blown hot and cold for too long. To say Forest were ruffled by Reading’s pressing and tackling was an understatement. The challenges were hard and fair although a mistimed challenge resulted in a yellow card for Richards. Ilori was for more decisive that he has been in the past and it was remarkable how often Yiadom (not the tallest to of defenders) outjumped opponents to win headers. Osborn drew a save from Jaakkola albeit a comfortable catch, and Barrow and Ejaria were denied with long range efforts by Pantimilion. Reading were good value for their one goal lead at the interval.

Understandably the intensity of the game subsided at the start of the second half and the onus was very much on Forest to get back into the game. Swift came close to scoring from a free kick on the edge of the box, his attempt pushed over by Pantimilion. Reading remained composed and disciplined, which is more than could be said for Forest.

It all kicked off in the sixtieth when Murphy took out Swift with a lunge which might well have been worthy of a red card but ultimately resulted in a yellow. In the melee which followed the Forest players swarmed around shoving Reading players protesting about the challenge and the referee issued yellow cards to Yiadom and Moore for Reading, and Robinson and Fox for Forest. It was Fox’s second so Forest were down to ten men. Wisely Murphy was substituted. Forest had not really looked likely to get back into the game and now it looked even more unlikely. Richards was also sensibly replaced by Lewis Baker who had an impressive twenty minutes, and a tiring Ejaria came off for McCleary who was desperate to get on to score against his former club. Reading were now in control although ten man Forest to their credit did try to mount a few attacks. The final nail in their coffin came when Loader was welcomed to the action by a disgraceful and brutal challenge by Darikwa which resulted in Forest going down to nine men.

Reading were now cruising and used the space created by the absence of Forest players to finish them off. McCleary held the ball up and waited for Yiadom to make an overlapping run before rolling a pass invitingly for him to cross and Robinson obliged by rifling the ball past his own keeper to dispel any lingering doubts about the result.

Reading picked up three valuable points, climbed above Bolton, and moved within two points of Rotherham. Many Forest fans had departed long bore the end and the Reading fans went home happier than they have for a long time, and with a feeling of renewed optimism about their prospects of Championship football next season. How quickly things can change in football!

John Wells

This Championship game took place 743 days ago in the 2018/2019 season.