Reading FC Match Report: 2018/2019 Season - Championship
READING 2 PRESTON 1
Reading: Y Meite (30), M Barrow (36)
Preston: J Stockley (90)
Mo Barrow and Yakou Meite combined twice in space six minutes in the first half to score the goals which gave Reading a much needed and thoroughly deserved victory over a Preston side looking for their seventh successive away win to boost their chances of making the play-offs. On the half hour Barrow's pace took him clear of the North End defence to deliver a perfect cross for Meite to slide in and finish at the far post. Meite reciprocated six minutes later flicking on a long ball to put Barrow in behind the North end defence again. Once again Barrow's pace proving too much for the visitor's defence as he nipped in between centre back and 'keeper and slipped the ball into an unguarded net.
This was a significant win in terms alleviating the fear of relegation and boosting confidence we enter as the crucial final phase of the season. Three wins, a draw, and only one defeat in the last three games is indicative of a good run of form.
The welcome return of Andy Rinomhota gave the Reading midfield a more balanced look, that and the surprise inclusion of Oliviera on the bench, combined to lift morale and Reading started the game in a positive mood. It was evenly contested first half with Reading looking more threatening going forward. With Yiadom and Meite running at the North end defence on the right and Blackett probing on the left the visitors defence had their hands full. Barrow occupied a central position, and his pace troubled centre backs Davies and Storey until he was withdrawn as precaution against possible injury on the hour. Rinomhota marked his return with an outstanding challenge to thwart a Preston attack in the second minute and went on to put in a typically assured display of midfield play. With the burden of responsibility shared in midfield Swift had one of his better games. Picking up the ball facing his own goal just inside the Reading half he turned his marker a struck a superb long ball with the outside of his foot for Barrow down the left. Barrow took full advantage and delivered the perfect ball for Meite to score at the far post.
Meite was winning the ball in the air consistently and on thirty-six minutes got his head to a long ball from Martinez and skilfully flicked it on to Barrow who had set off early in anticipation a of him winning the header. Under pressure from Barrow, Davies under hit his back pass to Rudd and Barrow darted between them to score a crucial second goal. Reading were pressing well and in spite of some neat football Martinez had little to do other than catch a few crosses. The game might have been all over on the stroke of half time when Ejaria twisted and turned on the edge of the box and hit a great shot which came back off the post after a touch from Rudd.
Preston manager Alex Neill made two tactical changes at half time in a bid to claw their way back into contention. Any plans made by both managers at half time were disrupted by further substitutions in the opening twenty minutes. Barker, having replaced Robinson and half time only lasted a quarter of an hour before he too had to be withdrawn. McCleary came on for Barrow who was suffering from cramp. Not long after Swift, who had also been struggling with an injury, was replaced by a very rusty McShane as Gomes adopted a more defensive formation with three centre backs. Reading sat back but for all their possession Preston rarely threatened to score. Meite and McCleary made promising runs at the Preston defence but poor decision making and lack of support meant the Preston defence were able to deal with the danger without too much difficultly. Josh Earl, having lost out to Meite in the air throughout the first half, was allowed to illegally prevent that pattern from continuing by a referee who appeared unable to identify the subtle pushing and grappling which proved effective. Meite put in a tremendous effort to find a third goal but lacked composure at the vital moment. It was pity Barrow was not still on the pitch to take advantage of the space which opened up as Preston pressed forward.
It appeared Reading would see the game out comfortably until the officials failed to notice Josh Earl was offside when he received the ball on the left wing and he crossed for McGuire to hit the post with a shot which came back off the post allowing Stockley to score from the rebound. There were a few anxious moments as Preston looked for an unlikely equaliser, but with the home fans urging their team on they held out for the win they deserved.
It was a good team performance today but Miazga was outstanding and the under-rated Baker made a significant impact in a holding midfield role. His commitment could play a big part in the run in to end of the season. He worked tirelessly and was urging the fans behind the goal to play their part in what was in the end a memorable win. There is no doubt now there is a more positive atmosphere within the squad and amongst the fans. It was real gamble appointing Jose Gomes half way through the season but it looks like it was the right decision.
This Championship game took place 141 days ago in the 2018/2019 season.