Reading FC Match Report: 2020/2021 Season - Championship
READING 3 BRISTOL C 1
Reading: O Ejaria (54), Y Meite (76), L Joao (90)
Bristol C: N Wells (73)
For the second time in eight days, Reading's potential to challenge for promotion was tested against top six opposition. Having fallen apart away at Bournemouth last week, doubts began to emerge but today Reading's attacking qualities enabled them to overcome a strong Bristol City side. The Royals scored three second half goals, and but for some excellent saves from City 'keeper Bentley it could have been more. Lucas Joao played really well and he was Sky Sports' choice as the Man of the Match, but Yakou Miete's second half performance arguably more deserving of the award. Apart from his incredible work rate, he tucked away Reading's second goal to restore their lead following City's equaliser; and then in stoppage time went on an incredible lung bursting run to set up Joao for the goal which sealed the win. Make no mistake about it however, this was far from a two man show. The entire team to a man performed well.
It was a cagey opening thirty minutes in which both defences were disciplined and dominant. There were few fouls and even fewer attempts on goal. The only effort of note came when Meite tested Bentley after he cut inside to hit a shot which came back off the ‘keeper and was cleared. It was difficult to tell if it was poor service or lack of effort but Joao was rarely involved. Neither side attacked with any degree of urgency for most of the half. There was a lack of energy about Olise, Ejaria and Joao in particular which prevented Reading from getting at the City defence. As half time approached Reading moved up a gear and began to put City under pressure. Meite came close to scoring the opening goal when the ball came to him with his back to goal in the box. Taking the ball on his chest he spun and produced a volley which an unsighted Bentley did well to keep out. Liam Moore was at his best with a superbly time challenge to deny O’Dowda when he burst in to the box in rare City attack. At the other end Joao came to life and a sharp turn and run created a shooting opportunity. Reading were beginning to take control.
There was element of good fortune about opening goal although it was thoroughly deserved. Wide on the left Ejaria picked up the ball, dropped his shoulder and cut inside to make space for a shot which flicked off Vyner’s leg and flew inside the near post past the wrong-footed Bentley. Dean Holden took immediate and decisive action binging on strikers Martin and Wells and switched to a more attacking four-three-three formation. The changes did little to stem the flow of Reading’s relentless attack. In contrast to the first half Olise, Ejaria and Joao were exploiting the space created by City pushing forward and running City ragged at the back.
The referee had an extremely poor second half and should undoubtedly have shown City’s Moore a red card for a two-footed lunge when chasing the ball following a heavy touch. Fortunately Laurent was aware of the imminent danger and escaped what might have been serious consequences. To rub salt into the wounds he then gave Veljko Paunovic a yellow card, presumably for pointing out what a poor decision he had just made. From the resulting free kick Holmes, who is looking very solid at the back, almost scored with a powerful header. Bentley again coming to City’s rescue with a good save. Meite raced clear of the City defence and again Bentley came out and made another important save to keep his team in the game. City were showing the ugly side of their game and Martin should also seen red for a cynical, premeditated and cowardly foul on Liam Moore, running his studs down the back of his calf with no intention of playing the ball. With twenty minutes remaining Laurent was incorrectly adjudged to have committed foul. From the free kick Wells pounced hammering home from close range. Replays of the goal revealed three City players, including Wells were clearly offside when the kick was taken.
Given Reading’s recent poor run of results it was now going to be even more of a test of character. Justice was administered three minutes later. Olise delivered a gem of a pass through the heart of the City defence and Meite found himself with another one on one situation with Bentley. This time he made no mistake keeping his composure under pressure from the close attention of a City defender to guide the ball past the advancing ‘keeper just inside the upright to restore Reading’s lead. Reading should have wrapped the game up three minutes later. Richard’s long range effort was deflected and looped up and onto the crossbar. With Bentley grappling with the back of the net Meite headed wide of the unattended goal and we were left wondering if that miss might come back to haunt Reading. Olise’s distribution had been outstanding all afternoon but defensively he was starting to flag. Paunovic wisely replaced him with Samedo for his defensive qualities for the last ten minutes.
Following his earlier miss, it was fitting that Meite should redeem himself by setting up the crucial third goal. Bearing in mind we were now in the fourth minute of stoppage time when players were flagging, Meite picked up the ball just inside his own half and took on half the City team down the right wing. He simply pushed the ball past three players and set off and kept on going until he reached the City penalty area. After his brilliant run he managed to compose himself, lift his head and slide the ball to Joao in the middle. Joao’s first touch made room for the shot and his second he calmly beat Bentley with a pass into the net. A classy finish from a very talented player.
This result, and more significantly this performance, has answered a lot of questions about the quality and the character of the players, and the ability of the manager. It’s amazing how much a good performance against a good team can dispel doubt and raise confidence and morale. Reading fans should now be looking forward to the next home game with renewed enthusiasm, and maybe watched by a couple of thousand from inside the stadium!
This Championship game took place 136 days ago in the 2020/2021 season.