Reading FC Match Report: 2020/2021 Season - Championship


Reading: Y Meite (90)
Cardiff: K Moore (pen 87)

Reading's chances of reaching the play-offs were left hanging by a thread after dropping two more points at home to Cardiff City, but it might have been a lot worse. Three minutes from the end of a tense scrap, and desperately chasing the goal they needed, the Royals were left stretched at the back and a City break ended with a rash challenge by Richards on Moore to concede a penalty. Moore calmly converted the spot kick which seemed to finally put pay to Reading's promotion challenge. Hope was partially restored in the last minute of stoppage time when late substitute Baldock skipped past the full back down the right and clipped in a perfect cross for Meite to head powerfully past Smithies. It was rare moment of quality in the box from Reading having dominated possession without applying the finish required.

With so much riding on the outcome for Reading the first half was cautious and tentative from a Reading perspective. Joao was restored to the starting line up in the hope he might re-discover his early season form the form but with Flint breathing down his neck he was unable to make any impact. It was sad to see such a talented player fail to come to terms of the physicality of the game, show poor touch at times and stumble at crucial moments. Reading’s play lacked the intensity to unsettle a defensively strong Cardiff defence. City dealt comfortably with any high balls into the box and smothered any attempts by Reading to play through a tight formation. In a spurt of pressure, Reading had three attempts blocked in quick succession, and a clever flick by Meite easily was gathered by Smithies. Reading’s anxiety also resulted in the concession of a series of unnecessary fouls handing possession back to City and relieving any pressure on their back line. The best chance of the first fell to Cardiff’s Wilson after fifteen minutes and produced a very good save from Raphael.

Joao’s recent decline was compounded just after half time when he fell awkwardly in the box and sustained a serious shoulder injury and had to be replaced by Puscas. The intensity of Reading’s play pushed City back and as the pressure mounted, the foul count began increase rapidly. Brown, Pack and Nelson received yellow cards. Somehow Vaulks escaped a caution in spite of several ‘robust’ challenges! Swift was introduced after seventy-seven minutes to bring some composure in midfield as Reading grew increasingly desperate. Moore’s penalty three minutes for time seemed likely to be the winner.

In a final throw of the dice on came Aluko, Baldock and Tetek, and it worked. Baldock’s pace, and Meite’s presence in the penalty area, rescued a point and perhaps indicated where Meite should start in the next few games. It might even be worth giving Baldock a start alongside him. At this stage Reading must find a way of opening up opposing defences and the way things have gone recently it would appear there is not much to lose in trying something different up front. Reading’s slim chances of success now depend entirely on a dramatic loss of form by either Barnsley or Bournemouth, or preferably both!

John Wells

This Championship game took place 106 days ago in the 2020/2021 season.