Reading FC Match Report: 2020/2021 Season - Championship


Reading: L Joao (42), M Morrison (45)
Bristol C: --

A typical Lucas Joao finish and a rare goal from Michael Morrison gave Reading a much needed three points to halt a run of two successive defeats. It was a comfortable win over a really poor Bristol City side bereft of ideas and confidence. Injury to Laurent forced Veljko Paunovic to make a change in midfield but Samedo filled the vacant defensive midfield role extremely well as is indicated by another clean sheet. Yiadom and Richards returned after being rested on Saturday and Esteves was given his chance to play in midfield to increase Reading's attacking potential.

In a first half dominated by Reading, City were often content to belt the ball forward hopefully and consequently struggled to keep possession. Samedo and Rinomhota covered a tremendous amount of ground to snuff out any attempts City made to pass their way through midfield. Samedo was particularly strong in the air. His timing was perfect generating power and distance with his headers. Creatively, Olise was running the show in midfield, drifting past players and linking up play. His delivery from free-kicks and corners was outstanding making City look increasingly uneasy at the back. City’s attack was virtually non-existent.

Hunt picked up the first of four City yellow cards for a high and late lunge at Esteves. Reading stepped up a gear after half an hour and a nice exchange of passes between Yiadom and Esteves down the right ended with a cut back from Yiadom. Ejaria met it with a fairly tame effort which was on target, but it was fortuitously deflected wide off the heel of a City defender. Richards struck a good shot from the left which beat ‘keeper Bentley but was cleared by a covering defender. The referee Langford was beginning to show worrying signs of weakness responding to player’s reactions when making decisions. Four minutes from half time, just when it looked as if Reading might be losing momentum, a moment of quality gave Reading provided the breakthrough. Yiadom was fouled on the right and Olise whipped the free-kick into the near post. Using his strength Joao held off a challenge and, even under pressure his first touch was perfect, and his second saw the ball hit the back of the net. It is what he does, and he does it well.

City were looking ragged now leaving gaps at the back and failing to pick up runners from midfield. Rinomohta got on the end of another gem of a pass from Olise and rifled in a shot from a tight angle which was stopped by Bentley. Things got worse for City on the stroke of half time when Morrison burst through the centre of their defence, played a one two with Joao on the edge of the box, and trundled on pursued by floundering City defenders. He swung a leg at the ball and it his attempt hit a defenders boot and looped up and over a frustrated Bentley in to the net. It was a poor goal for City to concede but one which Reading deserved and credit must to be given for Morrison’s energy and enthusiasm.

City applied themselves to the task with more energy in the second half forcing a couple of early corners but they still tended to hastily hoof the ball forward hopefully rather than retain possession. Reading continued to threaten to score a third goal. Esteves had three decent opportunities coming in from the right but although struck the ball cleanly his attempts were deflected wide or narrowly missed the target. McIntyre came close with a subtle touch from a corner but Bentley reacted quickly to push his effort around the post. Following Morrison’s example, McIntyre went on a run from his own half to edge of the City box but failed to release the ball and lost possession.

Reading needed a third goal to kill the game off but couldn’t quite find the finish to several promising situations. City never looked like scoring and increasingly resorted to desperate challenges. Their foul and yellow card count mounted (twenty-four fouls and four yellow cards by the end) and the refereeing deteriorated. How Hunt remained on the pitch to end was mystery only Oliver Langford can explain. Already on a yellow from the first half, he had a piece of Ejaria’s shirt as he went past him and then tripped him from behind. Not even a word from Langford. Then five minutes from the end Yiadom made a run down the right and when Hunt saw the ball go past him and Yiadom about to follow, he cynically barged him into touch! Again no response from the referee. Langford’s ineptitude was summed up perfectly in stoppage time when Olise waited in vain for two City defenders to retreat ten yards. The City players were only no more than five yards from the ball as Olise twice implored Langford to take action who simply gazed gormlessly at the situation from close quarters, decided not to apply the Laws of the game, and waved play on. Olise was understandably disgusted at the farcical situation, made a mess of the free-kick and was still clearly disgruntled when he was replaced by Tetek soon after. Thankfully none of this nonsense made any difference to the outcome of this game, but over time weak refereeing does erode the quality of play.

I have repeatedly expressed my concern this season about the reluctance of referees to protect Reading from foul play. Worth noting 439 fouls have been committed against Reading so far this season more than any other team in the Championship – an average of a foul approximately every six minutes! Also, coincidentally, Reading have committed fewer fouls in the Championship and average of 11 per game so far this season along with guess who - Bristol City! Tim Dellor eat your heart out!

This win keeps Reading’s promotion push on track, and even with teams around them winning, they sit comfortably eight points inside the top six. At the final whistle the manager, the coaching staff, and all the players gathered in a huddle in the centre circle, once again illustrating the growing influence of Veljko Paunovic in building belief and team spirit.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 165 days ago in the 2020/2021 season.