Reading FC Match Report: 2022/2023 Season - Championship


Reading: T McIntyre (29), L Nicholls (og 36), Y Meite (81)
Huddersfield: T Lees (90)

A good crowd at the SLC Stadium, boosted by the presence of hundreds of young fans taking advantage of the reduced prices, sat in the sunshine and enjoyed seeing Reading cruise to their fifth home win of the season. The result never looked in doubt. Tom McIntyre headed Reading into the lead after twenty-nine minutes from an Ince corner, and seven minutes later Town defender Lees deflected Hendrick's cross past 'keeper Nicholls to give Reading a two goal cushion. Although Huddersfield's toothless attack never looked likely to penetrate Reading's defence, the crucial third did not arrive until ten minutes from the end when Meite muscled his way past a couple of Town defenders, continuing his run to tap in his first goal of the season with Nicholls stranded.

The welcome return of Andy Carroll gave Reading a lift, providing a physicality to the attack which has been noticeably lacking this season, and with the ongoing issues with injuries, an excellent appearance from the returning Guinness-Walker provided a further boost for the Royals. Hutchinson revelled in his preferred central midfield role. The contribution of Tom Ince was, as always, immense. He is the model professional. His energy and determination is an example to all around him. He is constantly focussed on and off the ball, never shirks a challenge, and never reacts when fouled. His corner to the far post produced the opening goal, and although he did not get on the scoresheet today, he came mighty close with an excellent free kick from outside the box which shaved the upright.

Tom McIntyre, having looked a bit shaky recently, was back to his best. He won all his headers at the back, made some incisive runs down the left wing, scored the opening goal, and his superb floated pass over the full back put Hendrick clear to deliver the cross for the second goal. There good performances throughout the team. However, Lumley seems to have a worrying weakness in timing and judgment when dealing with crosses as illustrated by Huddersfield's late consolation goal. A ball dropping in the six yard box should be the 'keeper's ball every time.

The biggest disappointment in recent games has been Joao's contribution. Recently, he has made more effort to compete for the ball when it is played to him, but he is woefully short on tenacity and effort. He often makes nothing more than a token gesture in closing players down or winning the ball in the air which belies his physical stature. I don’t remember him having a touch in the Huddersfield box today. Basically, if he is given time and space, he can do magical things and score outstanding goals, but he not likely to get either in the Championship, especially now opponents have seen how devastating his finishing can be. Something has to change or his place in the starting eleven must be in doubt. The point was perfectly illustrated by Meite’s brief twenty minutes on the pitch during which he won headers convincingly and brushed aside two Huddersfield defenders to secure Reading's victory.

Paul Ince was certainly not getting carried away with this result and his team's lofty position in the table, choosing to open his post-match interview with a comment about conceding a late goal to miss out on a clean sheet! He has undoubtedly produced a run of results few would have dared to imagine at the start of the season, but it was reassuring to hear him aspire to at least having a chance of beating high-flying Norwich City on Tuesday, especially at home. The players will not be short on confidence and Norwich will certainly not be taking anything for granted.

In spite of hearing the first chant of "The Royals are going up!..." today, I think more cautious optimism is more appropriate.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 181 days ago in the 2022/2023 season.