Reading FC Match Report: 2022/2023 Season - Championship
READING 1 LUTON 1
Reading: A Carroll (51)
Luton: C Morris (80)
Reading fans experienced the full range of emotional turmoil in the space of four dramatic second half minutes, courtesy of Andy Carroll. With so much at stake for both teams (although probably more for Reading) it was a cagey sort of game from the outset, but just five minutes after the interval the game exploded into life.
Femi Azeez whipped in a corner to the near post where Carroll, with typically perfect timing powerfully headed Reading into the lead. The home crowd erupted with a mixture of joy and relief as survival suddenly became a more realistic prospect. Four minutes later, another corner to Reading was again diverted in to the net by Andy Carroll. With Reading fans now in a state of euphoria, referee Tim Robinson was being pursued by protesting Luton players as he made his way over to Andy Carroll. Robinson, to the horror of the home fans produced a second yellow and then a red card and Carroll was on his way back to the changing rooms. The referee’s assistant had spotted Carroll had deflected the ball past Horvath with his hand.
Down to ten men with over half an hour remaining, Reading faced the daunting prospect of hanging on to a slender lead against team that had already dominated possession for most of the game. Quite test for the team but also for a new manager in charge for only his second game. Once again credit to Noel Hunt for keeping his head, as he waited for his counterpart Rob Edwards to show his hand. The Luton manager made a triple substitution on seventy minutes to adjust his tactics to take full advantage of the extra man. Hunt immediately responded sensibly refreshing his midfield, preplacing Azeez and Fornah two youngsters he knew well. His faith in Abrefa and Camara paid off and will have no doubt boosted their confidence to be trusted in such an important game at such a crucial stage. I have to say boosting confidence was not a strength of Paul Ince, which I feel in part is the reason for the current predicament.
Surely Reading couldn’t withstand the persistent onslaught for over thirty minutes could they? Well they didn’t, but they did offer stubborn resistance. Luton equalised with ten minutes of normal time remaining, Morris bundling the ball over the line after Lumley failed, under pressure, to deal with a hopeful ball into the box. It would be unfair to criticise Lumley who was again in outstanding form, particularly in dealing with high balls into the box. If he does have a weakness it could possibly be communication with his defence. Just for change he received a yellow card for dissent instead off time-wasting.
Hunt immediately reacted by replacing Joao, not renowned for his work rate, with the youthful energy of Ehibhatiomhan. With Camara pushing forward down the left Reading looked to engage the Luton defence to relieve the incessant pressure on the Reading defence. Again tactically it worked and Reading held on for another sixteen minutes to give Reading a precious point and a glimmer of hope of avoiding the drop. It was a tribute to Reading’s rearguard action that a frustrated Luton began to concede free-kicks as they desperately searched for a winning goal.
A recurring, theme particularly in recent games, has been the way referee’s are very quick to show yellow cards to Reading players. I am wary of statistics generally but last night Luton conceded eleven free-kicks and received two yellow cards while Reading conceded ten but received five yellow cards. There were examples of Luton players being only punished with the award of free kick for which for which Reading players were carded. I just hope we get a strong referee if Reading need a point or three from the last game of the season to Huddersfield manged by Neil Warnock.
This Championship game took place 50 days ago in the 2022/2023 season.