Reading FC Match Report: 2019/2020 Season - Championship


Reading: G Puscas (25), G Puscas (40), J Swift (83).
Cardiff: --

Reading may have started their league campaign with two defeats but with recent signings having had time to settle in they turned on a display which augurs well for the coming season. This result and performance will make the rest of the Championship sit up and take notice of the Royals. Two stunning first half strikes from Puscas put the home side in control and they rarely looked troubled by a poor Cardiff team who offered little threat other than hurling the ball into the box with long throws. In fact City can count themselves lucky the margin of defeat was not greater. City looked particularly ragged in the final phase of the game. Meite had a penalty saved and Puscas missed a very good chance to complete his hat- trick shortly before he was substituted to a standing ovation from an appreciative home crowd.

Playing with Moore, Miazga and Morrison in the centre of defence, with Richards and Yiadom pushing forward, Reading looked very secure at the back releasing Pele, Ejaria and Swift to roam creatively in midfield. In Joao and Puscas Reading had two experienced and powerful strikers. There were no apparent weaknesses and it is very a long time since such an assured performance has been seen from a Reading side.

There may have been raised eyebrows at the omission of Rhinamota from the starting line-up, but the manager’s selection was clearly vindicated by the quality of play by Reading through midfield. Joao’s physical presence was causing problems for City’s defence. His touch was good, he turned his marker with ease, and poked some very good short passes through the City back line around the edge of the box. It was pity he couldn’t cap a good performance with a goal. City chased and harried but produced little in the way of attacking threat and simply had no answer to the passing and movement of Ejaria and Swift. The opening goal came in the twenty-fifth minute. Puscas picked a ball wide on the right, skipped past Ralls, and drove into the box before rifling the ball past Smithies from a relatively narrow angle. Puscas then added a second five minutes before the interval. Swift delivered the perfect low cross into the box from the right wing and Puscas reacted like lightning to get in front of his marker and stab the ball through Smithies’ legs from close range. It was a classic striker’s finish from a player who has learned his trade in Serie A.

A relatively subdued Neil Warnock reacted at half time with a double substitution. Vaulks and Hoilett deemed to be the least effective were replaced by Patterson and Vassell, but to be honest Warnock was spoiled for choice in identifying the weak links. City hardly came flying out of the blocks in the second half. The only hint of a revival came in the form of even more long throw-ins into the Reading box. City’s best attempt came from a fine Glatzel strike from outside the box after sixty-seven minutes but Raphael, who played well throughout, pulled off a magnificent one-handed save to push the goal bound effort over the bar. From that point on City seemed to wilt and gave Reading more time and space to play their passing game and it looked very comfortable for the Royals. The third goal seemed inevitable as City lost their shape and looked stretched at the back. With just under ten minutes left Reading broke away and with the goal at his mercy and only the ‘keeper to beat Puscas curled his shot just wide and missed out on his hat-trick. Swift made amends two minutes later when in a similar breakaway and with a notable absence of defenders he ignored several passing options and finished beautifully for a deserved goal.

City by now were a demoralised shambles. Yiadom ran into the box and won a penalty which Meite insisted on taking but failed to beat Smithies. At that point however, few of us really cared, apart perhaps for Meite. Nobody was going to let a missed penalty spoil what was a good day to be a Reading fan.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 715 days ago in the 2019/2020 season.