Reading FC Match Report: 2020/2021 Season - Championship
DERBY 0 READING 2
Reading: L Joao (40), O Ejaria (45)
Inspired by an outstanding exhibition of forward play from Lucas Joao Reading, under new manager Veljko Paunovic, were able to get off to a winning start to this season's league campaign. It was an impressive and thoroughly deserved win for the Royals. With a blend of superb individual skill, sharp and incisive passing and disciplined defending throughout the team, Reading controlled the game from start to finish. Derby enjoyed a lot of possession without threatening to get back into the game after a confident and cohesive Reading side had taken a two goal lead though Joao and Ejaria by half time. There were many aspects of this Reading performance to be admired but if there was one feature which stood out was the quality of decisions made by the whole team when in possession.
Joao was influential from the start holding up the ball with his superb touch and strength under pressure, laying off first time passes and lethal finishing. Derby enjoyed a short period of possession early in the game, but were unable to create any chances. Reading began to impose control in midfield and should have taken the lead when Joao lost his marker with a great turn and shot. He should arguably have scored, but Swift certainly should hit the back of the net when the shot rebounded to him inside the box. The ball sat up nicely for and with the undefended goal at his mercy he put the ball high up into the empty stand behind the goal. It seemed only a matter of time before Reading took the lead. It was appropriate that it was Joao who gave Reading the lead after forty minutes. Olise whipped in a low corner which Joao met with a perfectly timed run to the near post and a deft finish which gave Marshall no chance. Reading extended their lead in stoppage time when Joao held the ball up inside the Derby penalty area, waited for the overlapping run from Ejaria, and laid the ball into his path with a perfectly weighted back-heeled pass. Ejaria gratefully accepted the opportunity and curled a precise finish inside the far post. It was a goal of the highest quality.
County picked up their third yellow card of the afternoon in the first minute of the second half when substitute Byrne was guilty of joining the game without notifying the officials. Poor management by the Derby staff. The previous two yellow cards in the first half for Shinnie and Sibley were for brutal late challenges, the latter could easily have been red for a foul on Ejaria who had just left two players in his wake on a mazy run. The second half brought little change in the pattern of play. Tactically Reading were spot on, simply containing the predictable Derby surge after half time before settling back into their pattern of precise passing and outstanding touches of individual skill, notably from Joao, Ejaria and Richards.
Joao came very close to a third goal for Reading after fifty–seven minutes when Reading swept forward with flowing move ending in an exchange of passes between Yiadom and Joao. Yiadom’s cross was met with a powerful strike from Joao which cannoned away off the crossbar. Swift missed another good chance when he was clear of the defence but his lack of pace and poor touch meant he simply lost possession without even testing Marshall. At this point Tim Dellor correctly, but absurdly, started wittering on about how Reading were top of the League. Derby managed to muster a couple of long range shots on target from Whittaker and Rooney came on a showed a couple of nice touches but the result looked increasingly inevitable and the game was manged well by The Royals in the final phase.
We have always know there is an abundance of talent within the squad but Paunovic has achieved remarkable improvement in the way they play as a team in very short time from a squad which was turning in some very mediocre performances last season. Mind you, having Joao back makes a huge difference. That, and keeping Andy Rinomhota in the starting eleven.
This Championship game took place 38 days ago in the 2020/2021 season.