Reading FC Match Report: 2019/2020 Season - Championship


READING 1 BLACKBURN 2

Reading: J Swift (57)
Blackburn: A Armstrong (8), B Dack (48)

Reading failed to recover from a very poor first half performance which left them trailing by a single goal at half time. Falling further behind shortly after the interval the Royals simply did not have the energy or desire to salvage something from the game in spite of pulling a goal back through Swift with over a half an hour remaining. A third successive defeat raises questions about tactics, selection and attitude which will need to be addressed soon before morale and confidence become an issue.

Rover’s game plan was simple enough but worked extremely well. They pressed high and marked tightly denying Reading time and space deep in their own half preventing the home side from playing the ball out from the back. Reading wanted too much time on the ball, although there was insufficient movement to encourage sharper passing. However, even when passing options were available the weight, accuracy and timing of passing was generally woeful. Swift was unfortunately the main culprit. Joao and Puscas were very tightly marked and found it hard to hold the ball or turn. Gallagher was winning most of the balls in the air up front for Rovers. Reading were second best in every department.

It was no surprise when Rovers took an early lead. On eight minutes Armstrong found himself in acres of space on the edge of the box and when he received the ball from Downing, neither Swift nor Yiadom showed any urgency in closing him down. He probably could hardly believe his luck when he was allowed to control the ball, take another touch, have a good look at the target, and strike the ball past Raphael unhindered by a challenge. It was good strike but a poor goal to concede from a defensive point of view. Puscas responded for Reading firing just over from a tight angle but Reading rarely threatened Rovers goal in a half dominated by the away side.

Reading started the second half badly and given the benefit of poor refereeing and bad luck, Rovers extended their lead through Dack. Replays of the goal showed Dack had a good handful of McIntyre’s shirt preventing him from clearing the ball as Gallagher played the ball across the six yard box , and with the Reading defender recovering from the infringement, Dack poked the ball into the net, Raphael was beaten by a deflection off the inside of McIntyre’s heel. (A good case for VAR!) Reading raised their game and Swift (having a better half) struck the post and then when Ejaria’s shot was blocked Swift swept home the rebound. Reading were back in the game with plenty of time left to at least salvage a point.

Jose Gomes changed his formation to increase his attacking options bringing on Meite to replace McIntyre, reverting to a back four. Almost immediately Morrison sustained and injury and had to go off. Blackett proved a more than adequate replacement. Yiadom marauding down the right posed the greatest threat Rovers goal and Ejaria was doing his best to make something happen but overall there was a lack of conviction about Reading’s play. Meite missed a good chance, his technique letting him down sending his effort high over the bar and Moore had a header on target which was saved comfortably. By the time the game moved into stoppage time the body language of the Reading team indicated Rovers had done enough to win the game. The visitors were able to keep possession with very little pressure on the ball from a jaded looking Reading and the game fizzled out for a comfortable win for Rovers.

The referee incensed the crowd with some pretty awful decisions particularly against Yiadom who was given a yellow card for a hard but very fair tackle in the first half. Then in the second half he beat his marker on the touchline with neat flick, and was clattered by the defender who arrived late and who subsequently went down injured. Yiadom was not only denied the opportunity to continue the attack gained by his skill, but was penalised for a foul and reprimanded by the referee. Poor refereeing however only added to the home fans irritation of what was for them, a very frustrating afternoon.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 86 days ago in the 2019/2020 season.