Reading FC Match Report: 2018/2019 Season - Championship


Reading: Y Meite (7), Y Meite (84)
Ipswich: G Edwards (5), F Sears (11)

Reading climbed out of the relegation zone with a draw against bottom of the league Ipswich Town. Under recently appointed manager Paul Lambert, Town presented more of a challenge that many had expected. As so often happens under a new manager Ipswich were galvanised by Lambert's arrival and started on the front foot. In a chaotic opening ten minutes they took an early lead through Edwards, immediately conceded a brilliant equaliser by Meite, and then regained the lead when Sears took full advantage of some appalling Reading defending. Throughout the first half Reading were sluggish and conceded possession with remarkable regularity, and rarely threatened the visitor's goal. In contrast Ipswich were full of energy and aggression and had Jaakkola not pulled off a couple of smart saves the game would have been over by half time. Thankfully for Reading the second half was a different story. Meite confirmed his status the current home fans' favourite heading a deserved equaliser six minutes from the end and, if Baldock had managed to put away one of the two excellent chances created for him in the final minutes, Reading would have taken all three points from an Ipswich side which by then had well and truly retreated into their shell.

Ipswich’s positive approach paid immediate dividends when a headed clearance dropped nicely to Edwards on the edge of the box who drilled a low shot through a crowded penalty area past Jaakkola. In his defence, he may have been unsighted. It took Reading a mere two minutes to level the scores. A speculative long ball from Moore was chased down and retrieved by Baldock when it appeared to be going out of play. Not only did Baldock reach the ball but managed to dig out a great ball to the near post which was passing behind Meite before he whipped the ball past Bailowski with a brilliant overhead kick. It stunned the noisy travelling fans into silence. It did not however deter Ipswich from pressing and probing the Reading defence. On ten minutes Ipswich ‘keeper Bailowski punted the ball upfield and it appeared to be running harmlessly through to Jaakkola under the watchful eyes of Yiadom and Moore. Unbelievably Yiadom seemed to leave it for Moore who in turn left it for Sears who gratefully slid it past a defenceless, and probably startled Jaakkola. It was an awful goal to concede but in keeping with a Reading first half performance riddled with errors. Jaakkola found touch with several of his kicks. I lost count of the number of times Reading players lost possession by simply running into trouble. Passes went astray. Barrow was booked for diving and might even have seen red near half time for his reaction to a challenge by Chambers which justifiably resulted in a yellow card for the Ipswich defender. It was hard to see how Reading could turn the game around, but they did in the second half.

After making such a good impression last week Rhinomota had been invisible in the first half and it was no surprise to see McCleary replace him at half time. It is hard to say how Reading took control of the game. McCleary gave Reading’s attack more of a cutting edge but the passing was generally quicker, more accurate and direct. Ipswich seemed intent on consolidating their lead rather than increasing it or maybe they simply could not maintain the intensity of their pressing game because they ran out of steam. Either way Reading increasingly looked capable of finding an equaliser. With Ipswich leaving only one player up front Clement’s decision to replace O'Shea with Swift made perfect sense. Blackett moved over to make a back three and Reading swarmed all over Ipswich. Six minutes from the end Bacuna looked up and floated a superbly accurate ball over the Ipswich defence and Meite drifted behind the centre back and guide his header inside the post to beat Bailowski. It was yet another magnificent finish from a player in great goal scoring form. To take a ball coming over his shoulder and be aware of the location of goal the ‘keeper before applying a subtle touch with his head demonstrated tremendous skill and composure.

Without Meite's contribution in terms of goals and work rate in recent games Reading would be in much deeper trouble by now. There was still time for Reading to go on and steal a victory and the chances came as Ipswich wilted. Sadly for Reading Baldock could neither find the composure or quality of finish to two chances which came his way in the final minutes. On each occasion the ball was pulled back from wide positions and were scooped over the bar. The second miss was particularly disappointing given the time and space he was allowed for a touch to steady himself before he struck his shot.

There were mixed feeling at the end from all concerned but the point lifted Reading up to twentieth place albeit on goal difference. There is a long way to go yet and Reading have been picking up points at home recently so talk of sacking Clements and relegation in my opinion is not only premature but pessimistic and counter-productive. It certainly doesn’t help to have Mr. Dellor stirring up trouble after the game with his attempts to fuel speculation about the manager’s future. There has been some dreadful defensive play this season but equally there has been some excellent attacking play. Ultimately it is scoring goals is what staves off relegation and Reading have recently been scoring some very good goals. Aspects of the performances have improved so why not build on that and maybe it is a time to believe with time and patience there could be better things to come. After all, real change is a process not an event. It was good also to hear the fans beginning to encourage their team when they are behind. It certainly helped again today.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 608 days ago in the 2018/2019 season.