Reading FC Match Report: 2021/2022 Season - Championship


Reading: L Joao (pen 3), T Ince (61), L Joao (71), T McIntyre (90)
Swansea: H Wolf (6), J Piroe (12), J Piroe (pen 45), M Obafemi (58)

This afternoon Reading produced possibly the most remarkable comeback ever witnessed in their current stadium. In a season blighted by conceding late goals, the Royals managed to overturn a three goal deficit in just over thirty minutes to salvage a point demonstrating all the qualities rarely evident in a very difficult season. In the final thirty minutes of a game which appeared to be lost, Reading wrestled the initiative from a Swansea side who had dominated possession for over an hour, to create and convert three chances to snatch a valuable point. This was a result a triumph for team spirit, self-belief and the strength of character to keep going when all seemed lost.

The fitting dramatic finale to this fantastic game of football came deep into stoppage time with a deft touch and finish from centre back Tom McIntyre. It was virtually a carbon copy of his stoppage time winning goal away at Bramall Lane on Good Friday. The only difference on this occasion was the ball into the box was nodded down to him by Luas Joao instead of Michael Morrison. The goal triggered ecstatic celebrations from home players and fans alike. It was a moment long suffering Royals fans deserved after such a miserable season. Velkjo Paunovic seems a dim and distant memory now as everyone can now begin to contemplate next season in the Championship.

Reading made the perfect start to the game when Laurent tangled with Pirloe in the box and went down. The referee’s assistant signalled a foul. Joao dispatched the penalty calmly to open the scoring. The lead lasted four minutes. Older fans may remember Joe Mercer (former Manchester City manager) saying "... when defending, sometimes it is OK to allow the ball to go past you, and sometimes it is OK to let the player to go past you, but never both at the same time!..." Drinkwater was guilty of the latter in the sixth minute and Downes left him stranded on the half way line before slipping a pass to Wolf who took full advantage of the time and space allowed by Yiadom inside the box to curl the ball superbly inside the far post. Swansea must have been pleasantly surprised with the time and space Reading allowed them in the opening twenty minutes. The visitors played through Reading’s static two banks of four with ease as Reading seemed reluctant to press in their own half.

Pirloe was the next beneficiary of Reading’s statuesque defending and gave the Swans the lead with another exquisite strike from the edge of the box. It was embarrassingly easy for Swansea who threatened to overwhelm the home side. Reading raised their game as half time approached and for a while Swansea looked ruffled. Hoilett’s superb trike from thirty yards smacked against the crossbar and as so often happens, having come close to levelling the scores, Reading found themselves two goals in arrears. Yiadom was guilty of hanging on to the ball and losing possession just inside his own half. The resulting attack was terminated by Hoilett clattering into Obefami inside the box and Pirloe notched his twenty second goal of the season from the spot to send Reading in at half time trailing by two goals.

It seemed like there was no way back for Reading and that feeling was apparently confirmed when Swansea scored their fourth after fifty eight minutes. Reading, pressing forward conceded possession on the halfway line again. Swansea, outnumbering Reading on the left, clinically set up Obefemi to lash the ball past Nyland, who by now must have been feeling cheesed off at the way he was being left exposed by his absent defence, which is now challenging Peterborough for the worst defence in the Championship with a massive eighty-two goals conceded this season.

What followed was bordering on the absurd. Three minutes after conceding, Holiett curled in an inviting ball to the far post where Ince and Laurent were lurking unmarked. Ince volleyed home and Laurent joyously scooped the ball up and ran back to the half way line geeing up the fans in the West Stand en route. It was warmly received by the crowd, although seemed to be little more than a defiant gesture which salvaged a bit of pride, but to the current Reading squad it was deemed to be a life line. Reading threw the kitchen sink at a bemused Swansea side. From a corner McIntryre, now fancying himself as a striker had a shot headed off the line and Joao prodded the loose ball past ‘keeper Fisher Now panic was really setting in amongst the Welsh side.

There was an element of justice being served when, in the final minute of stoppage time, probably added to compensate for Swansea’s blatant time-wasting tactics, McIntyre was first to react to Joao’s cushioned header to tuck away the goal which sealed Reading’s remarkable comeback.

Forget the mathematics. The Royals are staying up!

John Wells

This Championship game took place 40 days ago in the 2021/2022 season.