Reading FC Match Report: 2019/2020 Season - Championship


READING 1 PRESTON 0

Reading: M Miazga (90)
Preston: --

Reading secured a much needed dramatic victory in the eighth minute of stoppage time when Matt Miazga fired home the rebound from Jordan Obita’s superb strike from outside the box. Newly appointed Mark Bowen could not have wished for a better start to his tenure as Royals manager. Bowen’s impact was immediate and obvious for all to see and his reward of three points was richly deserved. In a refreshing change of tactics, the tedious exchange of passes around their own penalty area were replaced by a desire to get the ball forward quicker and more directly. Defensively the marking was tighter and every Reading player was quick to close down opponents on the ball to such an extent North End were restricted a mere four goal attempts on target to Reading’s twelve. The players looked more comfortable with the change in tactics and the fans went home happy for the first time since the win against Cardiff way back in August.

Many Reading fans were not convinced of the wisdom of replacing the popular and personable Jose Gomes so suddenly which was reflected in the slightly subdued mood in the stadium during the opening exchanges. After all, Preston are the highest scoring Championship side so far this season and Reading were on a run of seven games without a win. In truth it was a scrappy first half. Reading were clearly not going to give the visitors an easy ride and the North End players put a rather weak referee under a lot of pressure by contesting every decision. They swarmed around the official following a challenge by Obita on Fisher probably forced him to bring out his yellow card. Fisher made a meal of it to make matters worse. Preston’s pathetic antics feigning serious injury requiring extensive treatment when receiving the slightest knock was feature of the game. Ironically it backfired on them with Maizga’s winner coming in a period of eight minutes of second half stoppage time albeit mainly for Morrison’s treatment for a ‘proper injury’ (serious gash on his head).

It was noticeable form the outset Reading were not going to invite pressure by playing patiently out from the back and the percentage of searching long forward passes was significantly greater than under Gomes. Puscas showing excellent touch controlled a long ball from Obita before firing over from the left side of the box. Ejaria was causing Preston problems with his ability to keep possession in tight situations and twice in quick succession made room for himself to test ‘keeper Rudd. Meite’s energy a physicality was giving the visitors defence something to think about. Swift tested Rudd with a well struck free kick from a good thirty yards. Raphael on the other hand had little to deal with throughout the first half thanks to some solid defensive work by the Royals epitomised by Morrison throwing himself at strikes from Nugent and Pearson in quick succession. The half ended goalless but Reading had grown in confidence.

Nugent had a golden chance to open the scoring just after the interval but headed Fisher’s cross straight at Raphael. That apart Reading looked more likely to score. Yiadom’s energy down the right was opening up the Preston defence with remarkable regularity. Ejaria failed to covert Yiadom’s cross when he looked likely to guide the ball home from close range. It was one of several promising situations created by the wing back. Puscas and Meite gave way to Baldock and Loader after seventy minutes. Both players had an immediate impact with their pace, touch and intelligent running which clearly unsettled Preston’s lumbering giants at the back. Loader probably should have scored with header from Swift’s corner. Preston brought on Jayden Stockley to unsettled Reading’s central defenders, which he failed to do, in spite of being allowed to use his arms to impede them at every opportunity, but by now referee Whitestone was allowing all sorts of minor pushes and shoves go unpunished. The game was on a knife edge for the last twenty minutes. Charlie Adam joined the fray with six minutes to play and apparently tweaked a hamstring so made little impact.

As the game wore on Reading clearly fancied their chances of finding a winner and remained resolute and calm at the back. Eight minutes of stoppage time was added and there possibly could have been more, but ultimately it turned out to be sufficient for Reading. With only a minute of that time remaining the ball dropped to Obita outside the box with room to set himself for a strike on goal. His excellent effort was low and powerfully hit through a crowed penalty area. Rudd got down well to keep it out but unfortunately for him it bobbled towards Miazga who finished like striker and ran off to celebrate his achievement with the fans and was promptly shown yellow card for doing so. That will teach him. Perhaps next time he scores a stoppage time winner he will jog back to the half way line and politely shake hands with the rest of the chaps in his team.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 29 days ago in the 2019/2020 season.