Reading FC Match Report: 2020/2021 Season - Championship


Reading: L Joao (66), G Puscas (90)
Coventry: G Hamer (22), M Godden (76), S McCallum (85)

After Tuesday's outstanding performance away to Blackburn Rovers, Reading were brought back down to earth with bump by a Coventry City team low on confidence after a run six matches without a win. Reading never reached the level of performance achieved in recent games. Their play lacked intensity and a well organised City team grew in confidence as the game progressed. Once Coventry had taken the lead Reading struggled to penetrate a tight Coventry formation. Joao levelled the score out of the blue mid away through the second half with a brilliant solo effort from outside the box which should have signalled a Reading revival but Coventry refused to lie down and hit back with two more goals before Puscas pulled a goal back in stoppage time.

Reading enjoyed a lot of possession but the game was starting to develop into a stalemate as Reading struggled to create a clear cut chance. On twenty minutes Joao missed a very good chance to open the scoring with a heavy touch after he had burst through the centre of the City defence. Three minutes Coventry took the lead from a rare attack when Hamer calmly and accurately stroked the ball through a crowded box past Raphael’s outstretched hand just inside the post. City now had a lead to defend and looked comfortable retreating into a four four two formation on the edge of their box. They were not averse to putting their foot in and Hamer finally received a yellow card after a series of cynical fouls.

There was not much of a reaction from Reading after the interval and were unable to play their way through or around the Coventry defence. It was the first time Reading had been behind all season and they did not respond well to the challenge. City continued to deny Reading time and space in midfield so it took a moment of inspiration from Lucas Joao to change the dynamics of the game. Joao spun on the edge of the box and unleashed a powerful low strike into the corner of the net. Given recent form the equaliser one have expected to provide the momentum for Reading to go on and win the game but Coventry reacted well. Biamou rattled the frame of the goal from close range when it looked easier to score. A minute later City took the lead when Dabo’s strike from outside the box was parried by Raphael and Godden reacted sharper than the Reading defence to tuck away the loose ball from close range.

Reading were now looked decidedly out of sorts. Passes were going astray and the game looked to be getting away from them. Olise had drifted out of the game almost completely indicating that in spite of his undoubted talent he has to learn to raise his game when the going gets tough, and certainly does in the Championship. To make matters worse Moore picked up an injury and was replaced by McIntyre. In a bid to save the game, Paunovic wisely decided to sacrifice Olise and introduce Puscas to play with two up front. Five minutes from the end Coventry substitute McCallum was allowed to drift inside unchallenged from a deep position and caught Raphael out with a good, but not unstoppable, strike to seal the unlikely victory for his team. With belated urgency Reading threw caution to the wind and Joao’s touch set up Puscas who finished well from a tight angle. However, with only a minute or so of stoppage time remaining, it was irrelevant.

This evening Reading we found out how Reading coped with chasing a game from behind. Next week we will see how they react after a disappointing defeat. Not that it was needed, this was a reminder of just how difficult it is to win games in the Championship. Steve Coppell once said that by December your season was pretty much defined in terms of your potential to compete for promotion. On that basis November’s results will tell us a lot more about this talented team’s credentials as promotion candidates. My gut feeling right now is that they will be in the mix at the end.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 273 days ago in the 2020/2021 season.