Reading FC Match Report: 2022/2023 Season - Championship


READING 1 COVENTRY 0

Reading: A Mbengue (57)
Coventry: --

Reading resumed their season following the World Cup break with a dogged performance to end Coventry City's run of four successive victories with narrow victory courtesy of Amadou Mbegue's first senior goal. City manager Mark Robbins accurately assessed his team's performance as worthy of at least a point, but as they say, that is football. Reading will justifiably feel satisfied with their solid and disciplined performance and the reward of three points for their efforts.

For all their possession, City only managed to register four goal attempts on target to Reading's three.

Reading started brightly, but it was Lumley who was the first of the two 'keepers to be called in to action getting down smartly to his right to get a hand a good strike from just outside the box by O'Hare. The visitors took control of midfield and passed the ball well without quite managing to carve out clear cut chances. In fact it was Reading who came closest to taking the lead in the six minutes of stoppage time added for Tom Holmes to be treated for a head injury and ultimately replaced by the returning Tom McIntyre. A determined run and cross form Tom Ince was headed powerfully on target producing a very good full stretch save by City ‘keeper Wilson.

Coventry took the game by the scruff of the neck after half time and kept Reading on the back foot. Their passing and movement was impressive although Reading were focussed and rarely gave City a clear sight of goal. After fifty-seven minutes a rare counter attack ended with Panzo sliced a clearance resulting in a Reading corner. From the corner McIntyre won the ball in the ball in the air and nodded it into the six yard box where Mbengue popped up to twist in the air and divert the ball past Wilson with a deft header to put Reading ahead. So with over half an hour remaining Reading had their nose in front.

Under siege for the rest of the game Reading remained resolute and composed. Coventry passed their way through midfield but could not find space in and around the Reading penalty area to make their pressure pay. Lumley beat away three decent strikes on goal but in the end deserved to keep his clean sheet.

Unusually Paul Ince made full use of the bench making changes and reorganised the defence with Sarr returning at the centre of defence. His physical presence and influence on the game was immense and allowed McIntyre to move wide to left back in place of Rahman. Loum came on for Fornah, and Joao and Long took over from Carroll and Meite up front. Long’s contribution was significant using his skill, strength, and Premier League experience, to take pressure off Reading’s hard pressed midfield and defence. Lucas Joao continues to disappoint and again on this showing will struggle to hold down a place in the team. He is easily dispossessed, often makes no attempt to win the ball in the air, and only offers only a token gesture to close opponents down. His play lacks commitment and intensity which is unacceptable at any level of football, but certainly in the Championship.

Reading's second half performance was not entertaining to watch but impressively effective against a side used to winning. With the half way point in the season only one match away The Royals find themselves one point outside the play-off positions in the table having won ten and drawn two of the twenty-two games played. Unlikely to be considered as serious contenders for promotion, but their status a Championship club next season looking increasingly secure.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 57 days ago in the 2022/2023 season.