Reading FC Match Report: 2020/2021 Season - Championship
SWANSEA 0 READING 0
Reading rode their luck at times this evening at The Liberty stadium against in from Swansea but Veljko Paunovic's selection and tactics produced a performance which earned his team a valuable point which keeps them in the top six. Still deprived of key players, The Royals played with real desire and team spirit from start to finish. It was not pretty to watch, but with 'keeper Raphael in outstanding form and some resolute and disciplined defending, Reading kept a clean sheet and even had a chance to win the game near the end. Taking four points from the last two games with so many players unavailable is an impressive achievement.
It was a cautious start by both teams and with Baldock isolated up front the ball kept coming back when Reading tried to get out of their own half. Ayew almost put Swansea in front with a spectacular volley which flew over the bar. McIntyre came close for Reading almost adding to his volleyed goal of last week when he got a foot to Olise’s delightful ball into the Swansea penalty area. It took a smart save from Woodman to keep his effort out. Swansea were looking more likely to take the lead but Reading’s defending was practically faultless. Ayew was proving to be a real handful for the Reading defence but fortunately for Reading he could not find the finish required. Guehi had the best chance of the first half to put Swansea ahead when the ball dropped to him unmarked five yards from goal but he leant back and skied it over the bar. In the last minute of the half Reading broke away following a Swansea corner and could have taken the lead themselves but Olise delayed has pass ignoring opportunities to put Ejaria in on goal and was cynically tripped by Bennett. Having received treatment Olise had to leave the pitch and could not take the resulting free kick. Baldock struck it well but it never going to beat Woodman from such long way out.
Reading came out for the second half looking confident of taking something from the game. Ejaria found Baldock with a superb pass behind the Swansea defence. Baldock slipped the ball to Samedo who unfortunately made the wrong decision and lost the ball. Paunovic replaced Baldock and Samedo with Swift and Aluko as it became increasingly apparent that Reading could take something from the game. After seventy minutes Ayew had a great chance to win the game. Connor Roberts delivered a perfect cross but Ayew’s close range header lacked power and accuracy although it still took remarkable agility and reflexes from Raphael to keep it out.
If there was a defensive weakness it was Reading’s left side where Ejaria was slow to close down and rarely tracked his man all the way back into the danger area putting McIntyre under constant pressure. Accordingly Swansea had attacked predominantly down that flank for most of the game. Paunovic thankfully was alert to the danger and crucially replaced Ejaria with Richards for the last fifteen minutes. It was a typically shrewd change and it was immediately noticeable how Swansea’s attacking options were snuffed out on that side. It was certainly a factor keeping Swansea at bay, but also with Richards wide on the left and Swift increasingly getting on the ball Reading began to pose more of a threat going forward and were finally able to play in their opponents half. It was refreshing to see the direct and decisive impact of Richards going forward.
In the eighty-third Reading won their first corner and it that man McIntyre again who popped up to meet Olise’s cross with a powerful header which drew a very good one handed save from Woodman. Again tactically Reading got everything right. They hunted the ball down when then lost it and rather than sit back they opted to keep possession play in their opponents half. For the first time in the match they began to string passes together. Swansea may feel hard one by, but in truth it was a pretty good away performance form a determined and well organised Reading side. Now with Joao and Meite hopefully returning soon, the second half of the season holds a lot of promise for Vekjko Paunivic and his squad.
This Championship game took place 22 days ago in the 2020/2021 season.