Reading FC Match Report: 2020/2021 Season - Championship


Reading: --
Preston: --

Reading missed a golden chance to pick up three valuable points at Deepdale this afternoon when Lucas Joao missed an eighty-third minute penalty dragging his spot kick wide having sent North End ‘keeper Iverson the wrong way. It is Joao’s second successive miss from the penalty spot this season. It was a poor penalty, but just as it happened against Birmingham City, the referee allowed a lengthy delay while Reading’s opponents protested against the decision, and that clearly does the taker no favours at all. It is something Joao will need to overcome because, following today’s fiasco, it is more than likely future penalty awards will be subjected to such ‘tactical’ protests. It was a very clear penalty.

The game was evenly overall in terms of possession. In the first half both ‘keepers were tested a couple of times and both sides enjoyed periods of pressure. Reading however were more inventive and creative in the final third and consequently had more attempts on goal, and twice as the number of shots on target than Preston. Preston were certainly more brutal in their approach with a staggering eighteen fouls over the ninety minutes. Eventually during the second half the referee lost patience and four Preston players picked up yellow cards, but as so often this season the referee did not stamp on it early in the game which invites the offenders to continue.

Preston dominated the game in the opening fifteen minutes, but apart from a good strike by Sinclair in the first minute forced Raphael to react sharply, Reading’s ‘keeper was rarely called into action. Having dealt with Preston’s early onslaught without really looking troubled, Reading settled into their rhythm and began to put probe the Preston defence. Swift and Aluko missed the target from free kicks just outside the box and Laurent tested Iverson with an excellent strike also from outside the box. The was an anxious moment for Reading inside the six yard box when Jakobsen’s attempt was saved by Raphael but there were few clear cut chances before half time.

Reading’s work rate has improved as the season has progressed and this was even more evident in the second half. Ejaria and Swift in particular are contributing more defensively and both were causing problems for Preston with their passing and movement which was becoming increasing sharper. Laurent and Rinomhota continued to have a huge influence in the centre of midfield. McIntyre and Morrison were very secure at the back with some no-nonsense clearances whenever danger threatened. Aluko’s work rate was impressive as always and he forced a good save from Iverson with a dipping effort from the edge of the box. Joao was holding the ball up really well when under pressure and winning his share of balls in the air. His body language and attitude could be better, but he was very much the focal point of much of Reading’s attacking play. His strength and determination won the penalty near the end when Rafferty had to resort to a rugby tackle to stop him from closing in on goal. When Joao missed the penalty, a draw seemed inevitable. Reading might have snatched a late winner when Ejaria broke clear in stoppage time but he hung on to the ball too long and a promising attack came to nothing.

It was disappointing to come away with only one point but nevertheless it was another solid performance overall. Reading are well organised unit these days and the imminent return of Meite could make a huge difference to Reading’s attacking potential and take some of the pressure off Joao. Next Friday’s match promises to be another close game but Reading should feel confident about giving a good account of themselves against a Bournemouth side currently going through an indifferent patch.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 188 days ago in the 2020/2021 season.