Reading FC Match Report: 2022/2023 Season - Championship


READING 2 CARDIFF 1

Reading: S Long (pen 27), T Ince (63)
Cardiff: C O'Dowda (4)

A strike of awesome power from Tom Ince midway through the second half earned Reading a well-deserved first win of the season. O'Dowda gave the visitors the lead in the fourth minute heading home from a corner at the far post, but the Royals dug in and took control of a sometimes feisty contest. On twenty-seven minutes Shane Long marked his return to Berkshire with a calmly struck penalty to level the scores after Ince had rounded 'keeper Allsop and was brought down by Nelson. Referee Darren England's decision not to show a red card Nelson, will undoubtedly be a strong contender for worst decision of the season. Ince stood out in a gutsy Reading performance against City side who enjoyed a lot of possession but lacked the quality and imagination to overcome a resolute Reading defence. Unlike Reading sides of recent seasons, having taken the lead, this team managed the game well and rarely looked in danger of losing their grip on the game.

After losing to an early goal away at Blackpool last week, Reading fans might be forgiven for initially feeling pessimistic about the outcome of yesterday's game. Their worst fears may have been realised but for a crucial save from Joe Lumley after thirteen minutes. The Reading 'keeper, who had an excellent game, got down smartly to his left to keep out O'Dowda's well struck shot preventing City from extending their lead. From that point on, Reading looked far more threatening than City going forward.

City predominantly attacked down Reading's left flank, perhaps targeting Walker-Guinness as a potential the weakness in Reading's back line. The young full back stuck to his task and also showed a willingness to get forward, coming close to giving Reading a first half lead after thirty-five minutes. A slick move on the right released Yiadom to slide in a perfectly weighted cross to find Walker-Guinness thundering in at the far post who unfortunately, at full stretch, was unable finish. Reading finished the half strongly. The half time whistle was delayed for treatment to former Royal Andy Rhinomota who sustained a head injury and did not return for the second half.

Both sides fancied their chances of taking all three points but it was Reading that took the initiative with Ince's devastating swerving and dipping strike with the outside of his left foot. In spite of a lot of huffing and puffing from City Reading kept their head and never looked in trouble. The blend of youth and experience may have been enforced by the incredible number of players unavailable due to injury, but it worked. Joe Lumley rose to the occasion (literally!) coming off his line to claim a succession of high balls launched in to the box as City desperately sought a second goal. Shane Long may not be fully fit yet, and he has certainly lost some pace, but he still has qualities which cause problems for opposition defences. His presence up front provides a focal point for Reading's attack and he is reassuringly reliable in what he does well.

Having had the heart ripped out of their midfield during the summer transfer window with the departure of Laurent, Rhinomota and Swift, Reading might have struggled in that department this season. However, Ince, Hedrick and Ejaria looked very solid. The biggest bonus could be the emergence of Fornah who was impressive on the ball. He has great touch, quick feet, and crucially kept calm under pressure and found good passing options.

As the pundits frantically and unrealistically try to predict the outcome of Reading's season on the basis of a couple of games, Paul Ince and his team are quietly getting on with the task of steadying the ship. The popular pre-season view of the press was that Reading will struggle this season, and in time they may be right. However, after today's performance, the alarm bells should not be ringing quite so loudly.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 50 days ago in the 2022/2023 season.