Reading FC Match Report: 2022/2023 Season - Championship


Reading: --
Millwall: A Voglsammer (pen 11)

The highlights of my visit the Select Car leasing Stadium this Saturday were my usual pre-match and half time chat with my friends, and a pleasant conversation with the lady sitting next to me about the poor quality of Reading’s ball into the box, the Hob Nob website, and the inept performance of referee Michael Salisbury. The rest of the afternoon is at best described as disappointing. From the whistle Millwall’s game plan was to unsettle Reading with a string of subtle, and not so subtle, fouls on and off the ball. Three fouls in the opening two minutes set the tone as the visitors set about trying to nullify the threat posed by Andy Carroll’s ability to win the ball in the air.

Gary Rowett attempted, and failed miserably, to justify his tactics in his post-match interview. "…The Championship is quite scrappy in general isn't it…” claimed the Millwall manager ”… there are games where you want more possession and passing quality but it's hard to do that when it's games back-to-back....” To their credit Reading kept their cool quite well under the circumstances especially as referee Michael Salisbury seemed to be incapable of taking control of the game. His most appalling decision coming just after Millwall had taken the lead when Saville literally grabbed Andy Carroll around the neck and threw him to the ground only a few yards away from him, and the fourth official, but only stopped play when Carroll landed on top of Saville as a consequence of his ‘challenge’. Salisbury’s only yellow cards were shown to the Ince family (father and son). I would not condone verbal abuse of officials but on this occasion I imagine their observations were probably accurate if not polite.

The only goal of the game was a consequence of a catalogue of errors. A sloppy pass by Sarr on the halfway line left Reading exposed to a quick counter attack and Millwall took full advantage. Bradshaw slipped the ball through to Flemming and Guinness-Walker’s challenge was not strong enough to halt his run towards the box. Lumley came flying out and Flemming went down. There was some doubt about where Lumley made contact with him, but it looked on the replay to be just outside the box. Flemming certainly landed inside the penalty area. Neither the referee, or his assistant, had any doubt and awarded a penalty. Vogslammer lashed the spot kick high into the net giving Lumley no chance.

Reading were forced to make changes at half time. Dann and Yiadom had picked up injuries and were replaced by Mbengue and Moore. The injury to Dann is particularly bad news. His leadership at the back has been impressive this week. It is not defending however, which is proving to be the main problem recently for The Royals. Today the inability to create chances continued to plague Reading. Having dominated possession (60%) they failed to register a single shot on target. The lack of movement from throw-ins, the poor quality of crosses, and the generally poor quality of passing all contributing to the problem. Paul Ince needs to be a bit more creative in his tactics and selection because what he is doing at the moment is not working. With the potential EFL decision to deduct six points again next week hanging over us, we are going to need win some games to avoid the drop.

Joao has not had much impact coming off the bench this season but today he showed some nice touches, as Reading kept Millwall pinned in their own half, and linked up well with Casadei to create an opening for Ince on the edge of the box who unfortunately was wayward with his attempt. Casadei certainly looked worth a place in the starting eleven again. He at least has the composure, strength and touch to retain possession and has good range of passing accuracy. Given the injury to McIntyre that opportunity could come this week away at Blackburn.

As I left the stadium the rain came down and the exit road from the car park was blocked by a huge police presence attempting to restrain hordes of confrontational Millwall fans. My car was surrounded by stewards, police officers, horses, and vans, and Burberry. Sadly as indicated by the proud boast in their ‘no-one likes us’ anthem, there has always been an unpleasant culture of confrontation within the club reflected on and off the field. Thankfully we only have to put up with it once a season. Unfortunately, they will be back next season, if Reading manage to avoid relegation, because their team is nowhere near good enough to grace the Premier League.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 10 days ago in the 2022/2023 season.