Reading FC Match Report: 2021/2022 Season - Championship


Reading: T Holmes (45)
Hull: Mallik Wilks (55)

A Tom Holmes spectacular overhead kick in first half stoppage time produced a goal worthy of winning any game. It was his first goal at the level for the club, but an uncharacteristic goalkeeping error by Luke Southwood, and string of simply atrocious refereeing decisions, meant his goal only earned Reading a point when they probably deserved three. Before the game Reading might have accepted a point a reasonable result given City's recent impressive run of four victories, but the game was marred by referee Steve Martin's remarkable inability to interpret the laws of the game correctly. On three occasions, what appeared to most of us in the ground to be three clear fouls in the penalty area, went unpunished. They are the sort of decisions which go against you now and again but it is rare to have three in the same match. If, as they say, these things even themselves out over a season Reading are due for a few undeserved penalties soon!

The game itself was a curious affair. Hull understandably full of confidence dominated the opening phase of the game against a sluggish Reading side. Honeyman and Lewis-Potter were looking sharp in midfield for City, and Reading were generally allowing the visitors far too much time on the ball, particularly down the flanks, enabling them to ping crosses in to the Reading box with ease. Dann, Holmes and Southwood were busy dealing with far too many high balls, but were certainly up for the challenge. Hull are a big physical side and that certainly was a factor in competing for possession.

The game settled down and Reading began to threaten the City goal. Carroll’s wild swing failed to connect properly with the ball and Halilovic dithered and missed a chance of strike on goal, or as it stated on the Reading website "... Halilovic wasn't afforded time to get a shot away!..." Swift squandered the best chance of the match after twenty minutes. Chesting down a poor Hull pass on the halfway line, Swift found himself in a one to one situation with Baxter, but his attempt was easily saved by the City ‘keeper. A sharp exchange of passes on the left between Baba Rahman and Dele-Bashiru resulted in a superb strike by the latter from just outside the box which required a good save from Baxter.

Laurent, having recently had a dip in form, was back to his best in a holding midfield role and played a big part in Reading establishing a foothold in midfield. In contrast Swift was completely off his game. He is not blessed with pace, so when his touch deserts him and his passing loses accuracy he is more of a liability than as asset. His short pass to Halilovic put him in all kinds of trouble and the Croatian ended up with a yellow card trying to retrieve the situation. Five minute before half time Holmes nearly opened the scoring - for Hull! It took sharp a reaction from Southwood to keep out the defender’s interception of a cross. With half time approaching Carroll wriggled his way into the box and with goal at his mercy was tripped from behind, but not according to the myopic Martin. Almost immediately justice was served. Laurent competed well in the six yard box to head a corner back across goal. The ball dropped to Holmes, who with his back to goal, launched himself into the air and fired the ball back over his head in to net past an astonished Baxter to give Reading the lead. That gave Reading fans something to savour during the half time break.

Surprisingly the was no onslaught from Hull in the second half but they got back in to the game courtesy of a stroke of luck an absolute howler by Southwood. A long ball dropped on to the heel of the retreating Tetek and rolled invitingly to the path of Wilks who struck it reasonably well towards goal straight at Southwood. Reading fans watched in disbelief at what should have been a routine save from the Reading 'keeper into an equaliser for Hull. The ball somehow squirmed through and in to the net.

From that point on it Reading took control of the game without really threatening to find the winner. Azeez came on for the ineffective Halilovic and looked sharp, but was starved of the ball. When he did get on the ball he showed the pace sadly lacking in the rest of the team and won two free kicks in useful areas which sadly came to nothing. Swift burst into the box and was fouled but nothing was given. Ten minutes from time Andy Carroll’s header just inside the penalty area was blocked by Bernard’s arm (which was raised above his head!) In any other match it would surely been punished with a penalty but not on this occasion by Mr Martin. The chorus of boos which greeted the final whistle were clearly and understandably directed at the referee.

Although Reading were not at their best hey competed well and earned a point against a difficult team to beat. Worryingly Yiadom was forced to come off at half time to protect an ongoing injury, and Azeez suffered this season’s Reading striker’s curse and hobbled off at the end following a clumsy challenge. Even with all the injuries to key player this team still looks too good to go down, but nothing can ever be taken for granted.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 46 days ago in the 2021/2022 season.