Reading FC Match Report: 2018/2019 Season - Championship


READING 0 BIRMINGHAM 0

Reading: --
Birmingham: --

Reading may not have finished the season on a high note but at least it ended on a happy one. With nothing at stake for either side in this final fixture of a difficult season, a goalless outcome was always on the cards. Reading should have won, and deserved to win, due to the chances created, and a greater desire to play some attacking football. Jose Gomes took advantage their hard earned Championship safety to play three academy players up front, and the skill and confidence demonstrated by those three (Loader, Olise and Barrett) gave Reading the edge in a lively first half. Reading had three very good chances to take the lead but let City off the hook on each occasion. There was a party atmosphere to celebrate surviving the relegation battle and the success of manager Jose Gomes in arresting the decline of the club in the second half of the season. Jose, I am sure, appreciated the Portuguese influence evident in shirts, banners and flags amongst the crowd.

Reading dominated possession form the start and got behind the lumbering City defence with alarming regularity. Gunter had one of his better games producing several superb inviting crosses. In the ninth minute his first time driven ball to the far post dropped to Barrett in acres of space but his attempt lacked power and precision. Another good move down the right ended with Gunter’s deflected cross spiralling just over the bar. From the corner the ball bobbed around the goalmouth but Reading were unable to poke the ball home. A great solo run by City’s Vassell ended with a left footed strike well saved by Martinez. Reading almost took the lead with a sweeping move which deserved better. A typically accurate long ball from Lewis dropped behind Pederson at left back and Gunter’s well time run and excellent touch took him past the City defender. Gunter’s cross picked out Loader at the far post but his close range effort was clawed away by Camp when it looked likely to cross the line. Olise cut inside and struck a good shot which was also pushed away by Camp. City created very little in open play and their only other effort of note was a header by Roberts from a corner just before half time.

The second half was disappointing all round as City, apparently disinterested in winning the game, sat back and stifled Reading’s attempts to create scoring chances. Without Meite and Oliveira Reading looked lively but a bit lightweight up front. Lewis made a couple of promising runs through midfield but a packed City defence held out. Loader had a sight of goal on the edge of the box but his strike lacked conviction and his effort was rising and drifting wide and did not trouble Lee Camp. A dominant Reading toiled willingly without reward and City were simply dull and lacking ambition. Their main contribution was a series of niggling fouls to break up play. Dependence on the long throw is the hallmark of a side lacking in skill and imagination which pretty much summed them up. In a nice, but slightly bizarre touch, in the ninetieth minute, substitute John O’Shea entered the field of play to a guard of honour by both teams to mark his retirement from the game. The game end with an outrageous volley from Barrow which missed by miles. His effort was greeted with good humour. It was that sort of day.

The afternoon was rounded off with presentations of awards. Michael Olise (Academy Player of the Year) and Andy Rinomhota (Supporters Player of the Season) followed by a well-supported traditional ‘lap of appreciation’ by the players. Radio Berks signed off in typical style. After several minutes of meaningless speculative drivel about the potential changes to the Reading squad over the summer from Tim Dellor, he summed up by warning us about the likelihood of a lot of meaningless speculative drivel in the media about changes to the squad over the next few weeks. Thank God for the gravity of Mick Gooding who pointed out we simply just don’t know what will happen over the summer. All we can be sure of right now is that we have a good manager, the Academy is doing a great job, and Reading will be starting next season in a positive mood, and with good reason to do so.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 105 days ago in the 2018/2019 season.