Reading FC Match Report: 2020/2021 Season - Championship


Reading: L Joao (52), L Joao (65)
Huddersfield: F Campbell (6)

Bolstered by the return of Lucas Joao, John Swift and Omar Richards to the starting eleven, Reading were in control of this tough away game for most of the match. In spite of going behind after only six minutes, The Royals came from behind to win the game with two superbly taken second half goals from Joao. Having won their previous five home games Huddersfield would have expected to take something from this game, but Reading, almost back to full strength, were solid at the back and carried much more of goal threat going forward than the home side.

Joao announced his return after three minutes, receiving the ball with his back to goal on the half way line and spinning past his marker to make a penetrating run in to the Town half and releasing Swift on the left with a well-timed pass. Swift unfortunately did not have the pace to take advantage of the situation and the ball was cleared. Reading had started the game on the front foot and Huddersfield’s opening goal after six minutes came completely out of the blue. Richards was slow to close down Mbenza’s cross. Campbell beat Holmes on the air to give Raphael no chance from close range. Reading shrugged off this early setback and the pattern of the game was set.

Reading passed the ball well and Huddersfield sat back, disrupted play with a series of cynical fouls (a total of seventeen in total) and, even from midway through the half, began to indulge in time wasting tactics. The referee lost patience and gave Mbenza a yellow card for delaying a corner for a ridiculous length of time just before the interval. Raphael saw very little of the ball in the first half as Reading probed and tried to find their way through a tight Town defence. Aluko worked hard defensively throughout and was accurate with his distribution. He also on two occasions made room for himself inside the penalty area to get away a shot but unfortunately dragged both attempts wide. Swift found Joao with an excellent pass just before half time but Sarr was alert to the danger and it came to nothing. Reading came close to levelling the scores on the stroke of half time. Swift floated in a free kick to the far post where Holmes downward header struck ‘keeper Schofield’s leg. Although The Royals went in at half time a goal down, they certainly looked capable of winning the game, and in the second half that is exactly what they did.

Six minutes after the interval McIntyre, who had been knocking decent long balls forward earlier in the game put Joao in behind the Town defence. The Reading striker brushed off a limp challenge from Edmonds-Green, opened his body and side-footed past Schofield inside the far post. It was an exemplary lesson in how to finish. Huddersfield for the first time in the match began to push forward and the game opened up which was distinctly to Reading’s advantage. Joao demonstrated once again why he is so important to Reading with a second goal, which was if anything, was even better than the first. Olise, one of four substitutes to be introduced by Veljko Paunovic, slid the ball in to Joao’s feet just outside the box. This time Joao turned quickly to lose his marker and teed up a shot from outside the box and rifled it past Schofield. It was a magnificent strike.

Pauniovic made full use of the bench to introduce fresh energy in the final phase. Huddersfield committed bodies forward in search of the equaliser but were frustrated by a well organised Reading defence. Raphael made a crucial save ten minutes from the end, getting down at full stretch to push away Mbenza’s effort. Reading however were looking increasingly more likely to score on the counter attack and Esteves rattled the bar near the end as Reading managed the game well to secure the win.

Picking up points in recent games, appears to have generated greater confidence generally within the squad, and key players returning today has given everyone a further lift. This was a very professional and convincing win over a decent Championship side which bodes well for the second half of the season. Defensively the team is sound and there are now several options going forward. It is also encouraging to see how smoothly the four second half substitutes integrated seamlessly into the system. Everyone was prepared to work hard on and off the ball, and as always there was no finer illustration of that work ethic that the performances of Laurent and Rinomhota.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 207 days ago in the 2020/2021 season.