Reading FC Match Report: 2023/2024 Season - League One


READING 1 NORTHAMPTON 0

Reading: K Ehibhationham (65)
Northampton: --

Six minutes after coming off the bench early in the second half, Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan earned Reading a vital three points with an outstanding moment of individual skill. Dorsett got forward down the left and slipped a short pass inside to the young Reading striker, who skilfully made room for himself in the box, before curling a sublime inch-perfect shot inside the far post for what turned out the be the matchwinner. It was goal worthy of winning any match, and followed his equally stunning finish in Reading's previous home four thumping of Cambridge United. Make no mistake about it, this was a very significant victory for the Royals against a rugged mid- table side which lacked quality but were tough to break down and pressed well.

Reading dominated possession overall, but Town registered a massive nineteen attempts on goal, eight of which were on target. That said, two of those attempts came courtesy of horrendous errors by Mbengue and Eliot. Crucially Pereira produced a couple of exceptional and saves moments and Mbengue and Bindon were brilliant at the back. Mbengue's pace and sharp reactions to block some excellent strikes, combined with Bindon's composure on the ball and positional sense, thwarted Town when it mattered.

In a game littered with mistakes from both sides, Town forced Reading to play it long and won more than their share of loose balls in midfield. Azeez terrorized Monthe in the opening minutes with his pace and he was shown a yellow card for bringing him down as he accelerated past him just outside the box. Smith put in his usual effort but struggled against Town's dominant centre backs. After a great run and clipped cross to the far post by Knibbs, he did manage to beat Town ‘keeper Moulden with a looping header, but his attempt was cleared off the line by a covering defender. The rebound fell to Savage who made a real hash of his volley hammering it into the ground before it bounced out of harm's way.

Towns' Hoskins came closest to scoring for the visitors in the first half. Had he put away his first effort it would have matched Ehibhatiomhan's second half winner for quality. Guthrie picked him out with a long ball down the left and his superb first touch took him past Mola and Mbengue into the box, but he could not curl it past Pereira. Soon after Pereira got down very smartly to his right to prevent his second, and well struck attempt from the edge of the box.

Reading started the second half slowly and Reading's defence reacted well when Pereira slipped as he attempted the clear the ball and conceded possession in front of goal. Town were threatening to take the lead and Selles replaced Eliot, who was having a poor game by his standards, with Ehibhatiomhan, which turned out to be the turning point in the game.

Town certainly did not roll over, and a weary Azeez needed to be replaced. He was constantly giving ball away and indicated to the bench he needed to come off. For some reason Selles delayed the inevitable change until the last minute. Ironically, in the couple of minutes before he came off Azeez almost scored twice. A rasping strike was well saved by Moulden, and from the resulting corner he nodded a looping header back across goal which landed on the crossbar.

Reading have become increasingly adept at managing the game with a narrow lead and dug in for a very good result which keeps them comfortably above the bottom four - for now. Some tough game lie ahead in April, but with confidence growing within the squad, and an ever-increasing belief and commitment demonstrated by the fans, at home and away, there plenty of justified optimism about remaining in League One next season.

John Wells

This League One game took place 21 days ago in the 2023/2024 season.