Reading FC Match Report: 2019/2020 Season - Championship


READING 0 BRISTOL C 1

Reading: --
Bristol C: J Paterson (62)

Reading have recently developed the habit of leaving it late in the game to snatch a draw. Last night they can count themselves unlucky they didn't pull it off again with only a couple of minutes left on the clock. Meite beat the 'keeper with a powerful header only to see the ball come back of the post, the ball running to Aluko who had his shot blocked by a defender, the ball came back to Gunter, who saw his well-placed curling attempt headed off the line with the 'keeper beaten again. At that point it was clearly not going to be Reading's night.

City started cautiously but played and aggressive pressing game in the early stages of the game. Reading lacked any kind of urgency or intensity in their play and failed to make any impact on their opponent’s defence. We had to wait thirty minutes for the first shot on target. From nearly thirty yards out Swift’s effort produced a good save from Bentley, getting smartly down to his left, to keep it out. Swift sadly had one of his poorer games. He was caught in possession, hit corners which failed to beat the first defender, and made poor decisions with his passing. Notably on one occasion failed to release the ball to an unmarked Olise in the box, choosing instead to run into a Bristol defender to end a promising break. Tactically for Reading, playing Pucsas up front on his own simply did not work. When both he and Swift were replaced late in the game Reading looked far more potent in attack, but by then Reading were chasing the game and playing with two up front (Meite and Baldock).

City looked equally clueless going forward failing to register a shot on target before half time. Diedhiou seemed more intent on attacking Morrison than the ball and was eventually shown a yellow card for delivering a blow to Morrison’s head when the ball was not even close to him. It was hard to see where a goal was coming from and it has to be said Reading’s five man midfield, with an abundance of skill, was significantly short on pace. Obita for example is capable of delivering some excellent balls into the box but I have yet to see him take a defender on and go past him. Far too often only Puscas was in the box when Reading threatened the City goal.

Reading certainly started the second half with a greater sense of purpose and might have taken the lead when Morrison nodded the ball back into the goalmouth from the far post to find Ejaria. In his defence, it had to be hit first time, and from close range he fell backwards as he ballooned it over bar. It was a very good chance. In the sixty-second minute, Mark Bowen decided to swap Baldock for Pucas, and then out of nowhere, City instantly took the lead with what I seem to recall was their first shot on target. A quick counter attack was Reading’s undoing. Pele had been having a very good game but on this occasion he allowed Paterson to run off him and into the box unchallenged to fire past Raphael.

There was still plenty of time for Reading to salvage a point but the goal understandably gave City confidence and they took control of the game and threatened to extend their lead. Further changes clearly had to be made. Blackett made way for Meite and Swift for Aluko as Reading threw everything into a frantic final fifteen minutes to savage a point. City coped well with the pressure. Blake was particularly impressive in the heart of their defence. Olise had been fairly quiet for most of the game but the quality of his crosses from the left in the closing stages were causing huge problems for City’s defence. It was one comeback too many for The Royals and City took the three points they needed to creep into the top six.

This defeat has probably extinguished any thoughts of promotion this season, and as relegation appears equally unlikely, I hope Mark Bowen re-considers his policy on selection in the FA Cup replay next week. A full strength team might get Reading into the next round of F A Cup keep their interest in this season alive.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 198 days ago in the 2019/2020 season.