Reading FC Match Report: 2019/2020 Season - Championship


READING 1 MIDDLESBROUGH 2

Reading: L Moore (33)
Middlesbrough: A Fletcher (45), P Roberts (82)

This result has very little significance for Reading, but for Middlesbrough it was a vital three points in their scramble to safety and a place in the Championship next season. Reading started brightly but that didn't last long as the visitors showed greater urgency and desire, for obvious reasons. Reading took the lead against the run of play only to concede an equaliser on the stroke of half time. There were periods of the game which can only be described as chaotic and play swept from end to end, often as a consequence of careless mistakes costing possession. Middlesbrough played 'Warnock style' clattering into the back of Meite and others at every opportunity and scrapping for everything with the usual high foul count. Reading had a lot of the ball but Boro looked more threatening going forward. Reading's defence began to look disjointed and Roberts took advantage scoring the winning goal six minutes from time. Reading huffed and puffed but didn't look likely to score the equaliser as Boro ran down the clock.

Mark Bowen experimented by playing Liam Moore in front of the back four as a holding midfield player, which to a certain extent worked, but it does not look like his natural position. Having said that Moore popped up in the goalmouth to fire Reading ahead from a corner very much against the run of play. Following Moore’s opening goal the game became very stretched and open but neither side were able to capitalise on the time and space they were allowed. Moore for example misplaced a pass when Reading had a golden opportunity to hit Boro with a counter attack. Swift came close to extending Reading’s lead with superb strike which thumped against the post with Pears beaten. Boro’s equaliser also came following a corner. Having taken the kick Roberts was able to collect the ball in acres of space when it was returned to him from a clearance and send in a cross for Fletcher to glance inside the far post.

The second half was as scrappy as the first. Puscas looked sharp at times but he didn’t trouble the Boro defence or ‘keeper. Meite, willing as always, tried hard but his touch and finish was lacking. He scuffed shots, put a header over from a good cross and ran into trouble. Baldock had ten minutes at the end and managed a couple of nice touches but crucially no attempts on goal. In fact I can’t remember Pears having to make a save in the second half. The Boro winner came from a simple cut back by Johnson for an unmarked Roberts to steer past Raphael.

Recent games have shown Reading can defend well as a unit, although toady they seemed to lose their focus. What is deeply concerning is the lack of penetration going forward and the absence of decent strikers to hold the ball up and unsettle defences. A lot rests on Joao’s shoulders next season but Reading need more fire power that he alone can provide if they are to be considered serious contenders for the play-offs. Today they had a look, understandably, of a team waiting for the season to end.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 24 days ago in the 2019/2020 season.