Reading FC Match Report: 2022/2023 Season - Championship


READING 3 BLACKBURN 0

Reading: T McIntyre (14), J Hoilett (61), L Joao (78)
Blackburn: --

Blackburn Rovers arrived at The Select Car Leasing Stadium this evening sitting comfortably on top of the league with maximum points from their opening four games. They left, still in top spot, but without their 100% record in tact following a chastening defeat at the hands of a rampant Royals side with a point to prove after such a dismal performance against potential relegation candidates away at Rotherham United last week. For Reading, fielding an unchanged starting eleven from the previous fixture, it was quite a remarkable transformation.

From the start, Reading stamped their authority on the match in front of a home crowd who sensed there was something different in the mindset of their team for this game, and were in full voice creating an intimidating atmosphere which must have taken Rovers by surprise. All over the pitch Reading were pressing hard, winning challenges and forcing errors from bewildered Rovers team. Tom McIntyre struck the first blow, steaming into the box to thump home a powerful header from a Tom Ince corner. Having fallen behind to early goals in every game so far this season, the richly deserved spectacular opening goal brought a mixture of relief and joy to the Reading fans.

In spite of falling behind, Rovers understandably appeared confident and enjoyed a lot of possession, but mainly in their own half, as Reading stifled any of their attempts to get forward. Loum and Fornah were outstanding throughout in their ability to win and retain possession an initiate attacks down either flank. Combined with the energy Ince and Hendrick in midfield, Rovers were unable to gain a foothold on the game. Guinness-Walker and Yiadom were giving Rovers’ full backs a torrid time. Long won the battle with Rovers centre backs who somewhat naïvely assumed could intimidate him. He was a thorn in their side and was only denied a goal when his excellent strike was pushed away for a corner by Kaminski at full stretch.

Rovers were struggling from set pieces with Holmes and McIntyre regularly winning the ball in the air in both penalty areas. Clearly Rovers couldn’t deal with them by fair means and began to use dubious tactics to negate their threat. Referee Keith Stroud never at any point really took control of this issue or many other issues throughout the game for that matter. Rovers certainly played the referee well as the statistics illustrated. With a low foul count (eight for Reading and seven for Rovers) a disproportionate five yellow cards were shown to Reading players compared to two for Rovers.

A more significant statistic was seven the shots on target for The Royals to Rovers one! Rovers solitary attempt on target from Phillips early in the second half was brilliantly tipped over by Lumley, who had his confidence restored following past week’s nightmare, with a clean sheet.

Reading maintained the intensity of their play into the second half in spite of Rovers’ manager Tomasson making three changes at half time, and the second crucial goal duly arrived courtesy of a thunderous strike from Hoilett which flew in from an acute angle off the underside of the bar. Lucas Joao, replacing Long after seventy minutes, extinguished any lingering hopes of a Rovers revival with a little over ten of the ninety minutes remaining. Fornah produced a moment of magic wide on the left wriggling past two Rovers defenders, before losing possession, and typically winning back it before finding Joao free in the box. Joao’s presence of mind, awareness and touch in the box, created himself an opening to roll the ball inside the post as a flat-footed Rovers ‘keeper and defence looked on.

That was the cue for Rovers fans to head for the exit and for Reading to sit back and allow Rovers go through the motions of a pointless and fruitless attempt to salvage consolation of a game already lost. It was great night for Reading and their fans.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 40 days ago in the 2022/2023 season.