Reading FC Match Report: 2021/2022 Season - Championship
READING 2 BRISTOL C 3
Reading: F Azeez (19), L Moore (81)
Bristol C: A Weimann (5), C Martin (14), A Weimann (52)
Reading faced what proved to be an insurmountable task after conceding two goals in the opening fourteen minutes against a struggling City side who, without a win in thirteen games, started on the front foot playing with greater intensity and pace. City's goals came from well-rehearsed set plays, but were given a helping hand by some alarmingly sloppy defending from the Royals. Whilst it is encouraging that Reading have scored twice in their opening three fixtures, they have now conceded eight in the same period.
After five minutes, a long throw-in on the right was flicked on at the near post by Martin, and nodded past Raphael by Weimann from close range to give City the lead. Reading will be asking themselves why City were allowed to win the ball in the air twice in succession around their six yard area. Things went from bad to worse as Reading continued to play with a lack of urgency and conceded a second goal from another set play. Laurent's lunge resulted in a free kick deep inside his own half and an unchallenged Pring headed the floated the ball to the edge of the box back across goal. With City players queueing up unmarked in the six yard box, Martin calmly tucked the chance away.
The shock of finding themselves two goals down finally spurred Reading in to action. Five minutes later a delightful exchange of passes, and some well-timed runs on the left wing culminated in Azeez slamming the ball past Bentley from close range at the far post to bring the Royals quickly back in to contention. Reading were now stringing passes together and beginning to mount pressure on City’s defence. The game was finely balanced and the next goal was clearly going to be crucial. It is never too early for a team holding onto a lead to start running down the clock and City went through their complete repertoire of time-wasting tactics. Martin picked up the ball and ran off with it as Reading set up to take a free kick on the edge of City' box, Bentley was blatantly delaying goal kicks, and a mere four minutes after the re-start a City player sat down, allegedly requiring treatment, and half the team went over to the touch line for a drink.
Reading brought on new signing Dele-Bashiru at half time and wasted no time in setting about their quest for an equaliser and instantly came unstuck. A sharp counter attack presented City with a three on three situation in Reading’s half. With Reading's defence back-pedalling and all over the place Weimann kept his head and slotted in City’s third past a couple of defenders on the line and Raphael stranded.
Reading to their credit pressed on undeterred and leading by example Moore headed just over from a corner, and then reduced City's lead to one goal again with a mazy run from the halfway line before stroking in a measured effort from the edge of the box. With nine minutes of regulation time remaining it was very much game on.
In a frantic finale City were hanging on as Reading gave their defence a thorough examination. At the other end Palmer hit the post and Raphael saved well from Weimann when he pounced on the rebound. City would argue they deserved their win and Reading could equally claim they had done enough to salvage a point. Whichever way you look at it Reading will no doubt feel aggrieved a poor start to the game ruined their chances of winning against a team they were more than capable of beating.
Reading again found themselves on the wrong end of a 2-3 defeat after a disasterous opening 15 minutes set up Bristol City for victory. With Joao joining the long term injury list alongside Meite, Puscas was given a chance up front but failed to deliver on a disappointing evening. Apart from that change the side was the same as the one that has delivered against Preston at the weekend, but this performance was far below that one.
The game was lost early on with Reading's defence in all sorts of problems and failing to deal with a lively Bristol City attack. The first goal came after just five minutes when a long throw into the box found a City head with the Reading defence failing to challenge. The next header was also unchallenged and it was a straight forward opener for the visitors. The second goal was similar when another aerial ball wasn't dealt with and was headed on for a near finish.
Reading appeared to be back in the game when Azeez, who continues to impress, got his second of the season on 19 minutes, smashing the ball back across goal and into the back of the net from the far post after Bristow supplied the cross from the left. Unfortunately Reading failed to build on the goal and the frantic start to the game died out as Reading started to retain possession - but mostly in their own half. The Royals were certainly cranking up the passing statistics but rarely worked the ball forward and both keepers had little involvement for the rest of the half.
The second half saw new loan signing Dele-Bashiru come off the bench to replace Bristow, but then the game continued as it has started with poor defending seeing a spare Bristol City player stroll into the box on the right to receive a ball and then cross it back in under no pressure for the inevitable goal.
The final twenty minutes saw Reading finally come to life - helped by the referee failing to award what looked like a clear penalty for hand ball as a Reading shot was blocked by a hand in the area. The volume increased from the stands with Paunovic making his feelings about the referee all too clear, and the players eventually upped their tempo as Bristol City tried to maintain their lead. Clarke came off the bench to replace Puscas and he introduced some much needed pace and determination up front.
Reading's second goal came from an unlikely source with Moore steaming forward with the ball before placing a fantastic strike low and just inside the far post to make it 2-3. There was a sense Reading could find an equaliser, and more unconvincing penalty shouts for Reading, but also the possibility the visitors could seal victory on the break. Neither happened as Reading ran out of time to claim a point.
So Reading drop to 17th in the very early table with two defeats from three - having scored two goals in every league game so far. There was some reasonable entertainment from Reading in the last twenty minutes but the game had been lost with poor starts to both halves. The thin squad feels even thinner with injuries giving Paunovic headaches and we will need to rely on young players to come up with the goods up front while Paunovic will need to look closely at making his defence more effective.
This Championship game took place 40 days ago in the 2021/2022 season.