Reading FC Match Report: 2020/2021 Season - Championship


Reading: M Olise (45), G Puscas (57), L Joao (84)
Derby: T Lawrence (79)

Lucas Joao had only been on the pitch for three minutes when he ended his recent barren spell when Holmes won the ball in the air from a free kick on the edge of the box setting up the chance to prod the ball past Marshall from close range to restore Reading’s two goal advantage. It could not have come at a better time for Joao and for Reading after County had pulled a goal back with a little over ten minutes remaining to reduce Reading’s lead to a flimsy single goal. The relief and joy of the Reading team was epitomised by Raphael running the length of the pitch to celebrate the goal. Every at the club will be hoping it sparks a return of confidence and form for their main man. Velkjo Paunovic could not have hoped for a better outcome in response to his team changes. Having dropped his leading scorer, his replacement Puscas had already snapped up a chance early in the second half to put Reading control with two nil lead. Joao’s goal made the game safe for the Royals who desperately needed a win after dropping so many points in recent games.

The less said about the first half the better. The only scare for Reading came in a crazy spell midway through the half when, in the space of a minute, Kazim-Richards hit the post with a good header, and Bird and Lawrence forced Raphael into crucial saves as the ball ricocheted around the Reading box. Rinomhota appeared to be the only player showing sufficient desire and energy to trouble County. As a lacklustre first half reached stoppage time, Olise gave Reading the lead with magnificent strike which arrowed into the top corner from outside the box after good work by Ejaria on the left.

Reading raised their game in the second half and increased their lead when Miete cut inside from the right and hit a screamer which Marshall did well to parry. Unfortunately for him Puscas, who had looked sharp throughout, pounced and smashed the loose ball into the back of the net. Derby are one of the poorer Championship outfits and Reading threatened to add to their lead but could not capitalise on possession in the Derby box. Miete had a one on one opportunity with Marshall but he was denied by a full stretch save from the Derby ‘keeper. After seventy-seven minutes Meite appeared to be fouled as he closed in on goal but referee Moss, who incidentally had an absolute shocker, waved play on and Derby immediately broke away pulled a goal back through a Lawrence strike at least as good as Olise’s from outside the box.

It is fair to say that if Reading had conceded at that point it would have been so demoralising it would have put pay to their play-off hopes. Velkjo Paunovic made the right changes at the right time. Samedo to shore up midfield, and Joao to hit County on the break. It paid off almost immediately it paid off with Joao’s strike to make the points safe. Results elsewhere were not helpful for the Royals but it could have been a lot worse. The term ‘must win game’ is often inappropriately applied but begins to have some has relevance with six games to go, although next week’s away clash with Watford is more of a ‘must not lose’ game.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 117 days ago in the 2020/2021 season.