Reading FC Match Report: 2019/2020 Season - Championship


READING 1 STOKE 1

Reading: L Joao (7)
Stoke: N Powell (90)

Championship football is back with us again and The Royals got off to a flying start. Joao opened the scoring after seven minutes with a delightful finish from Meite’s cross, which I missed as the ifollow system predictably struggled to cope with everyone logging in just before kick-off. After a bright thirty minutes, the Reading striker unfortunately was forced to leave the pitch with a significant looking hamstring injury. Morrison might have extended Reading’s lead early in the second half, but was blatantly fouled in the box in the second half. The referee somehow failed to notice the infringement. To round the afternoon off, a stoppage time equaliser from Stoke denied Reading their first win behind closed doors. It’s good to be back!!

The absence of a crowd predictably changed the atmosphere but there was no noticeable lack of commitment from the players. Reading played some neat football in midfield. Olise, Swift and Ejaria linked up well but without Joao the attack lacked the cutting edge required to trouble Stoke’s defence on many occasions. Ejaria held on the ball too long at times and City got very tight on him, Olise looked Reading’s most fluent midfield player but faded in the second half. Swift struck a gem of a free kick which had Butland beaten but came back off the bar. All three players came in for some rough treatment and the referee should have taken stronger action. McClean deservedly received a card for a very late challenge premeditated challenge on Swift. Clucas also should have seen yellow for a two footed lunge on McClean near the end, but apparently he didn’t.

Moore looked particularly sharp considering the long lay-off, Richards conceded a couple free kicks by diving in unnecessarily in the second half, and Gunter needed to get tighter but overall Reading defended well and the back four looked secure. The only significant issue was Morrison’s position for the Stoke equaliser considering there were two Stoke players competing for the ball at the back post in the space vacated by the Reading centre back, one of whom nodded it back across goal for Powell to dive in and head past Raphael from close range.

Stoke will no doubt consider they deserved a point from a game in which they dominated possession, but in truth having done the hard work Reading will feel it was case of two points lost rather than appoint gained. The lack of atmosphere will take some getting used to in matches played behind closed doors but better that than no footy at all. We can only hope the refereeing will improve and maybe that absurd ‘time out’ for drinks midway through each half will be phased out.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 160 days ago in the 2019/2020 season.