Reading FC Match Report: 2022/2023 Season - Championship


Reading: L Joao (pen 71)
Preston: C Evans (51), C Evans (79)

After such a poor performance it is important to keep Reading's recent run of disappointing defeats, and their slide into mid table, in perspective. The absurdity of playing a World Cup in the middle of the season has resulted in all Championship sides playing nine matches in thirty five days which must have an impact on the quality of performances of all teams. Reading have suffered particularly with tough away games ending in narrow defeats at Swansea, QPR and Burnley which probably did not reflect the overall quality of their performances in October. That said, last night's defeat was on the whole, self-inflicted.

Preston were poor in the first half and posed little threat apart from one cross which Potts failed to make proper contact with, and a Brady effort on the stroke of half time. Several of their attacks ended with over hit passes running out of play for a goal kick.

Reading attacked with intent but the quality of passing and crossing was extremely poor. Too often the ball was played into the Preston box from deep positions which was easy for the visitors' towering defenders to deal with, even against the likes of Andy Carroll and Yakou Meite. Throughout the team the timing of the pass was sometimes too early, often too late, or the simply the wrong option. Notably there was a reluctance to move the ball quickly into wide positions to allow Rahman or Hoilett to deliver the kind of cross Carroll and Meite thrive on. Ince and McIntyre made penetrating bursts through midfield and then simply ran into trouble and lost possession. Paul Ince summed it up perfectly when he commented after the game "...our decision-making was horrendous..."

Clearly there has been a lot of work in training on defensive organisation which has stemmed the flow of goals against, particularly in away games. The team keeps a solid defensive shape out of possession but lacked fluidity and cohesion going forward. Definietly more work to be done there. Loum and Hendrick lack mobility which makes for a sluggish midfield. Meite and Carroll have tremendous physical presence up front but lack subtlety and variety. The contrast was apparent with the introduction of Long and Joao after North End had taken the lead after fifty one minutes. Both were more comfortable with the ball at their feet posing different problems for the huge North End back four. It was refreshing to see Long drop smartly off the defence to pick up a ball played into feet.

Ince's reaction with a triple substitution on the hour was commendable and the mobility and pace of Fornah injected a bit more urgency and pace going forward. Hendrick continued to patrol midfield with little impact going forward and contributed his customary scuffed strike from outside the box. Yiadom had an unusually poor game by his standards, but in the seventy-first minute he skinned Brady, who brought him down in the box to concede a penalty. Joao converted the spot kick superbly in spite of the delay of the unsporting and irritating antics of North End ‘keeper Woodman.

Reading had applied pressure on the visitors' defence after falling behind and Evans desperately tried to disrupt the game by lying around feigning injury. Thankfully the referee picked it up, and recognising as cheating, ignored it. After the equaliser Preston clearly fancied their chances of picking up all three points, probably encouraged by Reading’s continued sloppy play. A swift counter attack left Evans facing an isolated McIntyre on the edge of the box. Not for the first time this season McIntyre obligingly backed off to allow the striker sufficient sight of goal to strike the ball sweetly inside the far post. A well taken goal from an opportunity provided by poor defending.

There was no lack of effort from Reading to grab a late equaliser but that effort only produced a desperate long range attempt by Holmes and an Ince strike which went just wide. Preston, who along with Sheffield United boast the meanest defence so far this season (only 16 conceded), never really looked like conceding a second goal.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 147 days ago in the 2022/2023 season.