Reading FC Match Report: 2021/2022 Season - Championship
DERBY 1 READING 0
Derby: C Forsyth (33)
From watching this evening's match it is hard to believe the two teams involved are facing the adversity of significant disciplinary action. In an evenly contested encounter, Derby came out on top with a narrow victory courtesy of a freakish looping header from full back Forsyth after thirty-three minutes. Reading edged it on chances created and shots on target coming close to an equaliser in the last minute when a Josh Laurent header shaved the upright. It would have been fitting for Laurent to salvage an arguably deserved point following his commanding performance at the centre of Reading's defence. Ultimately, stand in ‘keeper Allsop made excellent saves from well struck attempts by Swift, Baba Rahman and Dele-Bashiru which on another day might hit the back of the net. It was a disappointing defeat but certainly not cause for pessimism from a Reading perspective.
The first half was full of attacking intent, and some careless loss of possession, by both sides. The play was often fast and open as Reading continued to show real quality in their passing and movement. Reading notably were able to play out of defence with precision and confidence, a consequence of the wealth of talented midfield players in their ranks. Derby were sharp in their passing around the box and exploited small pockets of space to create chances, the most notable move producing a fine save from Southwood to tip over Lawrence's powerful strike.
In contrast to Saturday, Tetek and Halolvioc were below par on Reading's right flank. Tetek made some uncharacteristic errors and shown yellow for a clumsy challenge. Halolovic frequently frustrated everyone with poor decision-making in his passing, and with some poorly executed attempts on goal. It was no surprise they both players should be selected by Paunovic to come off when changes needed to be made midway through the second half. I fully expect them to return to the starting eleven on Saturday. The other player to be substituted, George Puscas was noticeably, and understandably, aggrieved at being given the hook. He had been playing well and shown greater commitment than he often has in the past but was sacrificed ultimately for the untried Clarke. (Initially being replaced by Hoilett, who does link up play well.) Agreed Clarke needs to be given his chance at some point but he still looked a bit raw to me, and with game so finely balanced it did not seem the be the right time for ether player for the change. I suppose Paunovic felt his height might be an asset in the Derby box in the later stages. Reading's delivery from free-kicks and corners was also not up to the usual quality so Clarke was not really given the chance to prove himself anyway.
Derby, with their fans behind them throughout, started the second half on the front foot and Reading's defence was tested. Laurent, as previously mentioned was outstanding, but also defensively, the determination and sense of urgency throughout the team prevented the Royals from falling further behind. As full time approached, Reading understandably threw everything at County with everyone, including Yiadom and Laurent, getting into quite advanced positions. Obviously this left the door open for Derby to counter attack but they were unable to take advantage. Scott Dann made his first appearance for the club, coming on as a second half substitute. He was solid defensively although generally content to lump it forward, which in the later stages of the game was probably what was needed.
Under the circumstances Velkjo Paunovic is doing a remarkably good job. The belief and team spirit shown by Reading throughout was encouraging. They were confident in possession and always looked capable of getting back on level terms. It just wasn't their day.
This Championship game took place 116 days ago in the 2021/2022 season.