Reading FC Match Report: 2022/2023 Season - Championship


READING 1 MIDDLESBROUGH 0

Reading: T Fornah (28)
Middlesbrough: --

A sublime strike from Tyrese Fornah in the twenty-eighth minute was enough to ensure Reading continued their impressive home form so far this season. For much of the game Reading were content to sit back and allow Middlesbrough pass the ball around in midfield and deny them space where it really mattered, in the final third of the pitch. As on Wednesday against Blackburn Rovers, Reading looked more direct and menacing when they attacked than the visitors. Having to rely on basically the same starting eleven for the second time in four days Reading looked understandably weary in the final ten minutes, but showed sufficient resolve to hold on to their slender lead for another clean sheet, and another three points. League tables mean very little after only four matches, but a top three spot is good for morale at any stage of the season.

After a fairly dull opening in which Boro’ seemed content to pass the ball around with very little penetration, apart from one tame effort easily gathered by Bouzanis, Reading began to threaten going forward. Hoilett cut inside and tested Steffen with a venomous strike from an acute angle. A weak defensive header was drilled past Steffen, who was rooted to the spot, from outside the box. It was goal worthy of winning any match, and so it proved be just that.

Bouzanis made his league debut in goal due to Lumley’s ineligibility as a Middlesbrough registered player on loan to the Royals, and Hutchinson replaced Guinness-Walker who picked an in injury against Rovers in midweek. Both players acquitted themselves well although Bouzanis was only called upon to make one save worth mentioning, a header from Lenihan late in the game. Hutchinson looked capable but was not fully fit and gave way to Clarke twenty minutes from the end.

It was a good all round performance from the Royals but Loum and Fornah stood out again for their contribution defensively and going forward. Fornah was particularly impressive in possession, creating time and space for himself to pick out the best passing option. Hoilett for some reason was singled out for some brutal treatment and did not get forward as much as usual in the second half.

It is easy to see why Boro’ have yet to win a match so far this season. The quality of their final ball was poor, their build up laboured and their finishing woeful. Reading would have been kicking themselves if that had not picked up three points from this game. Chris Wilder often had his head in his hands in despair at his side’s lack of quality in attack.

Shane Long lasted sixty minutes before being replaced by Joao, but to be honest, a weary Long would have had more impact than the lethargic Joao in the final thirty minutes. In fact Joao was actually a liability in the last ten minutes. He offered nothing more than a token gesture at closing down Boro’s centre backs as they played their way into Reading’s half. His body language exuded an irritating indifference. From what I have seen this season Ehibhationham would have offered a great more at a stage of the game when work rate and effort was essential to defend a narrow lead. Joao is a very talented player but with the way Reading are set up this season, he is a luxury Reading can’t afford. I certainly can’t see him having much impact in the next two tough away fixtures at Millwall and Sheffield United.

One thing Paul Ince will also need to keep an eye on is discipline. I thought the referee Darren Bond, apart from missing a couple of blatant shoves in the back (both ways!) had a good game. He was justified in booking Bouzanis for time-wasting and McIntyre for speaking out of turn when he correctly decided not to play the advantage and award Reading a free kick. Reading have picked up nine yellow cards in their last two matches, several have been easily avoided. The squad is too small to cope with suspensions as well as injuries.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 37 days ago in the 2022/2023 season.