Reading FC Match Report: 2020/2021 Season - Championship


Reading: M Morrison (47), L Joao (66)
Cardiff: L Tomlin (81)

Reading maintained their winning run with a fine away victory against a very physical and unimaginative Cardiff City. The Royals eased their way in to control of a goalless first half and went ahead early in the second half with Morrison header. Joao's strength and skill inside the City penalty area produced a second goal for Reading twenty minutes later. Following the goals, injuries to Araruna and Joao resulted in both players being replaced after long stoppages for treatment. A re-shuffled Reading line up were on the back foot for the final phase of the game and when Tomlin bundled the ball over the line following a corner they had to withstand some heavy pressure from Cardiff. Deservedly they played out the remaining time, including an additional ten minutes of stoppage time and took the three points the quality of their football deserved.

Cardiff’s approach was made clear from the start with Olise and Richards losing out to strong but fair challenges on the half way line in the first few minutes. After the early exchanges Reading began to dominate possession and create promising situations in and around the City penalty area. Once again the decision making of individual players on the ball was very good. Passing was secure and when closed down in their own defensive third of the pitch they were happy to play the ball long. With Meite and Joao as targets it was a tactic worth pursuing. Meite got on the end of lovely ball over the City defence and forced as save from Smithies with his header. The referee had a poor game overall with his willingness to play the advantage, which often did not work in Reading’s favour, only encouraged City to continue with their attempts to bully them. Reading dealt with it well, neither being intimidated or responding in kind.

Early in the second half, City’s lack of discipline finally proved to be downfall. Ejaria beat his man (again) and was pulled back to win a free kick wide on the right. Olise’s superbly flighted free kick was headed past Smithes by Morrison who timed his run to perfection. City stepped up their game but Reading coped well with the pressure. Cardiff lacked creativity going forward and looked most dangerous from set plays in the form of corners and long throw-ins (the hallmark of a team lacking in imagination). The referee was allowing far too many fouls go unpunished and there was spell of scrappy play which ended in Reading wining the ball on the half way line and breaking quickly. The ball was worked to Joao in the box who used his strength and skill to hold the ball up, turn the centre back, and tuck the ball away for Reading’s second goal.

It seemed that Reading would coast to another comfortable win until the injuries to Araruna and Joao upset their rhythm. City made attacking substitutions in desperation. Holmes and McIntyre came on and played well as Reading battled to keep their two goal advantage. In spite of every Reading player being back for a corner Cardiff’s Moore was able to get a head to the ball and force a save from Raphael. The ball bobbled around in the six yard box and Tomlin poked it over the line. It was a messy goal and it put Reading under a lot more pressure with nine minutes of stoppage time to play. City never really had the guile to break down Reading’s defence and with every Reading player working hard and keeping their head they were rewarded with three points.

I will spare you the clichés about the significance about being top of the league after three games, but the quality of Reading’s football so far is something to feel optimistic about. Reading fans will no doubt be anxiously awaiting news of the extent of the injuries to Joao and Araruna the only blight on what was a very good day their team.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 308 days ago in the 2020/2021 season.