Reading FC Match Report: 2019/2020 Season - Championship


Reading: Y Meite (17), Y Meite (18), Y Meite (35), G Puscas (57), Y Meite (62)
Luton: --

Reading put their recent poor form behind them with an overwhelming five goal thrashing of struggling Luton Town at Kenilworth Road. Yakou Meite destroyed the Luton defence with four superbly taking goals taking his season’s tally to sixteen. (As the BBC Sports journalist summarised perfectly, “Four–Goal Meite Shatters Hatters”). Mark Bowen made significant changes to the team which performed so abysmally against Brentford on Tuesday evening. McIintryre, Osho, Blackett and Pele were drafted in at the expense of Gunter, Obita, Olise and Moore. The balance of the side looked better and the whole team looked quicker, sharper and more direct than in any of the previous pre lockdown fixtures.

From the start Pele and Rinomhota asserted their authority in central midfield, and with Swift and Ejaria releasing the ball earlier, and with greater penetration, Reading ripped apart a fragile looking Hatters defence. In a lively opening Meite had a shot blocked on the line, a Collins header rattled the bar for Luton and Pele was given a yellow card for an uncompromising challenge to break up a Town attack.

It was no surprise when Meite opened the scoring for Reading with a composed finish, running onto a deft flick by Puscas to slide the ball past the advancing Sluga. A minute later Meite increased their lead when the ball rebounded invitingly to him inside the box. Reading were dominating the game and playing some excellent football. Meite completed hit hat trick on thirty-five minutes with goal of the highest quality. Ejaria picked up a pass wide on the left, drifted inside past a defender with drop of the shoulder, and then threaded an inch perfect pass through the Town defence for Meite to run onto. Meite’s finish was outstanding. Receiving Ejaria’s pass in a wide position, his first touch with his right foot gave him a slightly better angle for the shot and he opened his body before stroking the ball inside the far post giving Sluga no chance. The Ivorian, often praised for his effort, but criticised for the quality of his touch, demonstrated he has more ability than some people may think. Also worth noting that of his four goals finished so assuredly, two were scored with his right foot, and two with his left. The hallmark of a good striker.

The third goal ended Luton’s hopes of taking anything from the game. After the interval Puscas added a fourth nodding in from close range after Morrison had headed a deep cross to the far invitingly back across the goal. Meite crowned an outstanding performance with his fourth goal, and Reading’s fifth, running onto another subtle pass from Puscas to slide the ball under Sluga. It was the finish of a striker on top his game.

This result ends any lingering threat of relegation, but the win has a far greater significance. McIntyre, Osho and Pele demonstrated how important it is in the Championship have the athleticism to compete for the ball and be positive in possession. Bowen has finally discovered the value of playing two central midfield players who are physically strong and can use the ball effectively to protect the back four in order to release Ejaria and Swift to make the most of their creative skills to open up defences. It could be tough on the likes of Olise who has real talent because there simply may not be room for him in the team just yet. Admittedly Luton are not the toughest team to play in the League but nevertheless it was a very heartening performance from Reading. Mark Bowen and his coaching staff must take a lot of credit for identifying solutions and having the courage to make the changes required to put them into action. It was good to watch from start to finish.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 203 days ago in the 2019/2020 season.