Reading FC Match Report: 2019/2020 Season - Championship


Reading: --
Charlton: J Leko (51), L Taylor (pen 80)

Reading were brought back down to earth with a bump this afternoon by a well organised and energetic Charlton side. Coming into the game unbeaten, newly promoted Charlton were not lacking in confidence, although they certainly treated Reading with a great deal of respect in the way they approached this fixture. It was a classic away performance by the visitors. They absorbed early pressure, were disciplined in defence and played simple passing football throughout the ninety minutes. Reading created some good scoring opportunities in the first half an hour but failed to make them count. Gradually Charlton took control of midfield and when they took the lead with a Leko strike early in the second half, which took fortunate deflection and Reading never really looked like getting back into the game. This performance will raise a few questions about attitude, tactics, and possibly team selection over the next couple of weeks, but there is no need for any undue pessimism for Royals fans.

Following a good run of results Reading fans were in good voice from the kick off and expectations were high. In a lively opening five minutes Reading forced two corners in quick succession. Joao glanced a header wide of the far post from the second. At the other end Charlton broke away and Raphael had to get down smartly to his right to keep out Leko’s strike form inside the box. It was clear Charlton carried a threat going forward. Reading however looked more likely to take the lead. Joao hit a spectacular overhead kick just over with the keeper beaten, and Puscas was unlucky to see his effort under pressure from close range come back off the bar when he met a Richard’s cross to the near post. Yiadom was terrorising the Charlton defence. Field was justifiably given a yellow card for his cynical challenge as the Reading wing back had clearly beaten him for pace. Reading really should have gone in at half time with a one goal advantage but with only Phillips to beat Puscas failed to find the net. A similar miss in the previous home game had cost him hat trick.

Charlton had certainly quietened the home fans in the first half and there was a disappointing lack of intensity about Reading’s play at the start of the second which gave the visitors further encouragement. Swift and Ejaria and Pele were finding it increasingly difficult to find space in midfield and consequently Joao and Puscas were not posing the same level of threat as they had in recent games. Leko on the other hand found acres of space deep in the Royals half on fifty one minutes and with the Reading defence retreating the Charlton striker tried his luck from just outside the box. With the help of a wicked deflection the ball crept inside the post past a wrong-footed Raphael. By now Reading had completely gone off the boil. It took a very good save from Raphael to deny Gallagher who had been allowed to run untracked through Reading’s midfield to get his shot away completely unchallenged. It raised further question marks about the defensive qualities of Reading’s midfield.

Jose Gomes decided a change was required but I am not sure he made the right choices with his substitutions. Clearly Reading needed to find a goal from somewhere and he understandably decided to bring on Meite and Boye to add more fire power. However the removal of wing backs Richards and Yiadom to accommodate this change was possibly unwise. There was still some defending to be done with Charlton looking to hit Reading with counter attacks. There was clearly a need to freshen midfield and provide a bit of energy and bite the solution appeared to be sitting on the bench in the form of Andy Rhinomhota. With Joao and Puscas struggling to make an impression on a very disciplined defence, replacing them with Meite and Barrett might have been more effective. Yiadom and Richards had every reason to be miffed at the changes.

The killer blow came ten minutes from full time. A Charlton counter attack resulted in Aneke being bundled over on the box and the award of a penalty. Taylor converted the spot kick with an arrogance that comes from player full of confidence who clearly has not had a problem stepping up to this level of football. Reading huffed and puffed in their search a goal but generally there was a lack of width and imagination from a side having an off day and had simply run out of ideas. It was overall a poor and disjointed second half performance from Reading against a team which may well challenge for a play-off spot at the end of the season. Reading clearly have the potential to do the same but on the evidence of today’s efforts, there is still a bit of work to be done. It was a game which this squad could certainly be expected to win. Jose Gomes was quick to accept that responsibility in his post-match interview.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 703 days ago in the 2019/2020 season.