Reading FC Match Report: 2022/2023 Season - Championship


READING 0 SUNDERLAND 3

Reading: --
Sunderland: P Roberts (39), P Roberts (41), J Clarke (69)

Last night, Reading's unbeaten home run came to an end in spectacular fashion. Sunderland dominated possession from start to finish, scored two goals in quick succession on the break shortly before half time, and finished off an extremely poor Reading team with a simply superb third goal midway through the second half. However, it has to be said Reading made a huge contribution towards their own demise.

The third goal, was the icing on the cake of an outstanding away performance and illustrated the fundamental differences between the two sides. Three one touch passes on the half way line released Neil to curl a perfect ball behind the Reading defence to find Clarke who took one touch to wrong foot Yiadom before striking the ball sweetly beyond Lumley. The quality of movement and passing from the visitors stood out in stark contrast to a Reading team lacking any spark of creativity or willingness to find space to receive a simple pass. In fact, making a simple pass, appeared to be a challenging task for most of the Reading team. It was a case of a team full of running, and willingness to pass the ball with purpose, running rings around a team content to retreat into a defensive shape, and hope a long punt up field might produce something resembling an attack.

Reading barely touched the ball in the opening ten minutes. Poor decision-making on the ball and off the ball meant Reading were unable to play their way out of defence. Sunderland mercilessly exploited the left side of the Reading defence where McIntyre was having a torrid time and looked extremely uncomfortable in possession. His hesitancy was unnerving for the rest of the team. Up front Joao, after playing well in the previous home game, reverted to his sluggish old self. Always not quite quick enough to react he posed no threat whatsoever going forward, whilst Ince scurried around frantically to try and generate some kind of urgency to no avail.

Hendrick was exposed as a very limited player. His inability to spot a pass, or even execute a pass, left a vacuum in the centre of midfield. It was his absurd decision which resulted in Reading losing possession on the edge of the Sunderland box which led to the opening goal. With Joao running away with his back to him, Hendrick tried to find Joao with pass through three defenders! The obvious outcome was yet another turnover of possession. Slick passing sliced open a threadbare reading defence ending with Roberts cutting inside on the left. McIntyre allowed him the time to pick his spot inside the far post to give Sunderland a deserved lead. A minute later a poor touch from Joao set up a similar situation with the same outcome, Roberts doubling his career tally for The Black Cats and the visitors score on the night.

Even at that stage a Reading recovery seemed unimaginable. Loum was given the hook at half time, replaced by Rahman (why on earth he was selected not for the starting eleven remains a mystery.) Reading looked marginally more positive going forward after half time but apart from substitute Meite failing to hit the target when clean through on goal, and the usually reliable Fornah (who was also disappointing), dragging his shot wide when provided with a clear shooting opportunity, Reading never really looked likely to reduce the deficit.

Remarkably Reading remain in the top six albeit with a goal difference of minus five in spite of losing nearly half their games. The league table has not settled down yet, but when it does the lack of consistency shown by this team would indicate a mid-table spot appears be the best we can hope for which, let us not forget, is an improvement on last season.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 12 days ago in the 2022/2023 season.