Reading FC Match Report: 2021/2022 Season - Championship


READING 0 WEST BROM 1

Reading: --
West Brom: K Grant (78)

Reading signed off in their final home game of the season with a disappointing defeat to mid table West Bromwich Albion. With neither side having any significant incentive to win the match, it was the visitors who showed a greater appetite for success and were justifiably rewarded. As far as Reading were concerned, the job was completed last week with an impressive away win at Bramall Lane and a thrilling comeback against Swansea at home, finally securing Championship status after a lack lustre campaign hampered by injuries, a points deduction, and a transfer embargo. The lap of appreciation was a subdued occasion after an uninspiring performance from the Royals which failed to produce a single goal attempt on target.

It was typical end of season fixture. Bright sunshine, a huge away following generating a good atmosphere and both sides passing the ball around without and penetration in midfield. Ajayi hit the post for the Baggies with a header and Joao glanced a header wide from a corner for Reading (which pretty much his only significant contribution). Young Reading centre back Terrell Thomas, making his debut at right back, had a solid game, coming in for my player of the season Andy Yiadom absent with a broken toe, which apparently he has been nursing for a few weeks. Thomas missed moment of glory inexplicably deciding not to head in at the far post with the goal at his mercy. We had to wait until the thirty-third minute for the first attempt on target. It came from West Brom when Malumby‘s strike from outside the box was comfortably gathered by Nyland. As for Reading, we will have to wait until next season for that occurrence at home.

Albion played with a bit more purpose in the second half and Reading simply failed to match them. On several occasions there was an overload on the right of Reading’s defence, even before Thomas was substituted by Arbefa due to cramp. The visitors failed to take advantage of the acres of space in that area squandering several good opportunities. The winning goal, deservedly scored by Grant, came from yet another Drinkwater error in midfield, this time he was guilty of hanging on to the ball too long and lost possession with Reading pushing forward. Albion finally taking advantage of the wide open spaces in Reading’s defence as they swarmed forward. Ironically the player who came closest to blocking Grant’s strike was one of his own team mates who had to jump out of the way to allow the ball past Nyland.

Ince spent most of the second half motionless in his technical area stroking his chin indicating deep thought about his team’s inability to create an attempt on goal. With Tetek, Meite and Barker available on the bench the decision did not require too much deliberation. It seemed reasonable to gamble on a couple of changes to freshen things up. After all, what was there to lose? Steve Bruce took the initiative as Ince pondered and was rewarded with a victory. Ince seems incapable of making a tactical change to influence the outcome of games, typically reacting when it was too late. Meite and Barker replaced Hoilett and Ejaria with ten minutes remaining. It was hardly sufficient time for either to make an impact. Barker particularly, was starved of possession and when he did get on the ball he embarrassingly ran the ball out of play. He must be wondering why on earth he had been brought to the club.

The lack of leadership at all levels has left the club paralysed, with no clear sense of direction for the future. A combination of expensive loan players due to leave, key players out of contract, uncertainty about the appointment of a permanent manager, and an invisible owner, it is hard to predict what will happen over the summer. I eagerly await the emergence of a ‘cunning plan’. Time to consult Baldrick and Blackadder?

John Wells

This Championship game took place 28 days ago in the 2021/2022 season.