Reading FC Match Report: 2022/2023 Season - Championship
READING 1 WIGAN 1
Reading: Y Meite (90)
Wigan: C Hughes (81)
Reading's season looks increasingly likely to end in relegation to League One after this disappointing draw against fellow strugglers Wigan. A draw was a result which really helped neither side, confirmed Wigan's fate after seeing a glimmer of hope extinguished when Yakou Meite stabbed home a stoppage time equaliser to keep Reading's slim hopes of survival alive.
Noel Hunt recalled the old guard of Long and Hoilett in the hope their experience would help Reading to a pick up crucial win and three points in their last home game of the season. Both players tried their hardest but in truth they looked unsurprisingly short of match fitness. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but Hunt might have been wiser to start with the energy and pace of some of the younger players he left on the bench.
The biggest home crowd of the season offered Reading the advantage huge vocal support. The players responded accordingly dominating the early stages of the game. There were several half chances for Reading but the only clear cut chance of the first half fell to Tom McIntyre who ballooned the ball over from ten yards out. That was pretty much the story of the game. Reading were high on effort but the quality of their play in the attacking third of the pitch was not adequate to break down Wigan’s defensive set up.
With McIntyre deployed in the holding role in central midfield. Hendrick was given license to push forward. That was part of the problem. McIntyre protected the back four but offered little creativity in his passing, being content to pass responsibility to someone else to make the penetrative pass. Hendrick also came up short with the quality of his passing. The lack of movement didn’t help and with Carroll suspended there was no target to hit up front. Joao looked most effective when he dropped deep to get on the ball and play short passes. There was nobody able to go past players meaning Reading were confined to passing the ball around in front of the Wigan defence.
The second half became increasingly edgy with so much at stake and both teams forced to take risks to score the goal they both desperately needed. Noel Hunt recognised there was a need to inject some pace up front bringing on Azeez and Meite. The stalemate was broken when the Reading defence switched off at the back post and Hughes headed Wigan in front with a downward header.
The Wigan joy was short-lived as Meite jabbed home the equaliser form close range in a goalmouth scramble three minutes in stoppage time. The draw had seemed a likely outcome all afternoon. Reading forced thirteen corners and had twenty-one shots but the quality of balls played in to the box was poor and the lack of composure on front of goal evident in the number of shots on target (three).
On the way I home I began reflecting on the prospect of watching the likes of Shrewsbury, Burton and Fleetwood next season. Huddersfield’s win at today Cardiff simply brought that reality even closer. It is time to start from scratch next season. Time start building a squad for the future find a good experienced manager to take Reading back where they belong. Of course Rotherham may well lose at home to Middlesbrough on Monday, and may lose away at Wigan. If that happens and Reading win at Huddersfield I’ll be delighted to eat my words.
Reading have flirted with relegation in recent seasons but the squad has been gradually weakened over the past twelve months. The transfer embargo, and long term injuries have had a big impact this season, and the departure of Rinomhota and Laurent should not be underestimated.
This Championship game took place 40 days ago in the 2022/2023 season.