Reading FC Match Report: 2023/2024 Season - League One


READING 1 BARNSLEY 3

Reading: H Knibbs (4)
Barnsley: H Kane (pen 39), D Cole (80), M Watters (87)

It was like 'Groundhog Day' at the SCL Stadium again last night. Reading started well, taking the lead when Knibbs nodded home from close range in the fourth minute, Barnsley scored from a dubious penalty close to half time before conceding two late goals (again!) It was another disappointing defeat, but the two goal margin was flattering to a fairly good but beatable side with aspirations of reaching the play-offs.

Reading, bolstered by two recent league victories, started confidently and brightly taking an early lead. Yiadom went a long mazy run which took him deep into the Barnsley half before he was upended by Connell. Wing floated the ball into the box and Mola headed back across goal for Knibbs to finish from close range. It all looked so simple. Bindon had a header well saved and Yiadom, who had an outstanding first half, saw his blistering goal bound strike from outside the box blocked as Reading looked to increase their advantage.

Reading had more of the play and succeeded in getting behind the Barnsley defence but could not find the quality of cross or finish to extend their lead. Referee Yates (and I will not be sorry if we don't see him again this season) incorrectly awarded Barnsley a penalty. Bindon, with his back to the ball, was struck on the arm by a headed clearance from very close range. The ball was travelling away from goal and Bindon could not have seen the ball coming. Why would he want to stop the ball from being cleared? Simply not a penalty, but how often do we see this kind of penalty awarded even with VAR! Too many referees simply don't understand the game.

A minute into the second half Knibbs missed an absolute sitter after Azeez wriggled free of his marker and rolled a perfect ball across the box. Knibbs not only succeeded in missing the chance he deflected the away from Smith who was also well placed to score. Reading threatened to take the lead, but in their reckless pursuit of a second goal they left enormous gaps at the back which made them vulnerable to a tactically astute Barnsley with some pacey forwards on the counter attack. Reading rode their luck but with ten minutes remaining it ran out. A long ball fell kindly for Kane to tee up Cole just outside the box who hit a volley of awesome power past a startled Button.

Having already replaced Mola and Mukairu with Mbengue and Vickers, Selles made a bizarre and desperate triple substitution in the eighty-sixth minute, replacing Azeez, Craig and Wing with Ehibhatiomhan, Savage and Elliott. A minute later the changes became irrelevant as Barnsley broke with pace and Jalo slid in a perfect cross for Watters to seal the points with a third goal.

Anger and frustration abounded as many Reading fans headed for the exit. On reflection Reading played some good stuff at times. However, midfield often went missing when playing out from the back resulting in too many long hopeful balls forward, and the quality of passing in and around the box was not quite there. Surely there are four teams worse than Reading in this league to keep us out of League Two providing Dai Yongge keeps paying his bills, or better still sells up and clears off!

John Wells

This League One game took place 82 days ago in the 2023/2024 season.